Lea Michele pokes fun at a viral internet rumor claiming she can’t read or write. The star shared a Sept. 18 TikTok showing her crying on the phone with someone named Jonathan, who is believed to be her longtime boyfriend and “Glee” co-star Jonathan Groff. The video’s caption reads, “Calling Jonathan to read the comments on my first TikTok.”
Michele – who shared her first TikTok a day earlier – debuted as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on September 6 but had to miss the second week of performances when she was diagnosed with COVID-19.
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A few days before her “Funny Girl” debut, Michele spoke more seriously about the rumor. “I went to ‘Glee’ every day; I knew my text every day. And then there is a rumor on the internet that I can neither read nor write? It is sad. It really is,” she said in a profile for The New York Times. “I often think if I were a man, a lot of that wouldn’t be the case.”
The conspiracy theory began circulating on social media years ago, with some users perpetuating the idea that Michele’s child star was preventing them from learning to read and write. Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman of the One More Thing podcast helped fan the flames. “The genius thing I would say about the theory is that there is so much evidence that helps us as opposed to what hinders us,” Ackerman said in a 2018 interview with Jezebel, though he himself admitted that he doesn’t really believe the rumor.
Michele seemed to find humor in the theory for a long time, tweeting: “Loved reading that tweet and wanted to text you back? I literally laughed out loud at all of this? I love you !!! ? ❤️,” back in March 2018, according to People. However, during her interview with the Times, she said she was afraid to make things worse because she feared any kind of further reaction would only prolong the internet’s jabs. However, her TikTok proves that she’s not afraid to laugh at the situation.
Michele has previously been accused of bullying and racism by her “Glee” castmates. Samantha Marie Ware called out Michele in 2020 for “traumatic microaggressions,” while Heather Morris tweeted about the “disrespect” shown by Michele and saying that “she SHOULD be called”. In her profile, Michele declined to directly address Ware’s criticism (she previously apologized for her past behavior in 2020), but said she’s changed since then. “I really understand now how important and valuable it is to be a leader,” she said. “It means not only going in and doing a good job when the camera is on, but also when it’s not. And that wasn’t always the most important thing for me.”