Former Glee star Lea Michele has a lot on her plate. Obviously, she's super busy with her role in Broadway's Funny Girl, but it's her actions off stage that actually have TikTok and Twitter buzzing these days. That's because people can't seem to let go of one of the wildest conspiracy theories we've ever come across. It claims that Lea Michele is illiterate.
As in, can't read, has never been able to read, would not even be able to read this very article about her that you're reading now. If you're not familiar with the conspiracy theory, here's a quick recap.
Rumors about Lea Michele being illiterate started in 2017.
Of all the conspiracy theories that have surfaced online, this one is definitely one of the most bonkers. In 2017, One More Thing podcast hosts Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman discussed the conspiracy theory in an episode of their show. Some time later, they shared a video where they explained their theory that Lea can't read or write. It apparently started off as a joke due to an excerpt from Naya Rivera's book, Sorry Not Sorry.
In the book, Naya detailed how Lea would refuse to improvise her lines and, according to Jaye and Robert, Lea never shared her thoughts about what Naya wrote, but simply encouraged others to read the book for themselves. It wasn't much to go on, but it was enough for the duo to take their theory seriously and investigate.
Jaye and Robert took to Facebook Live to openly discuss their speculations and do a deep dive into her career history. Aside from Naya's book, they analyzed Lea's past videos, mentioned her earliest roles, and pointed out that many of her Instagram captions have more emojis than words. In the 40-minute video, they even suggested that Lea had to listen to and record her songs on Glee because she couldn't read music. But Jaye and Robert didn't stop there.
On their YouTube channel, they uploaded a second video (which has since been deleted) to reveal more "evidence" that they collected. This time, they mentioned that Lea was barely ever photographed reading a book and that the few pics of her with books might have been photoshopped. Yikes.
Although the theory definitely sounds far-fetched, Jaye and Robert still managed to build a case that was strong enough to convince thousands of people. Not long after the video was published, countless people began to troll Lea on social media.
Twitter fans poked fun at Lea for not being able to read.
Several fans started to share memes on social media, joking that Lea won't get to read what everyone is saying about her. One user, Lena, tweeted: "I just spent 40 minutes watching a conspiracy video about Lea Michele being illiterate and holy s--t they Right." Another fan, Angie, said: "Did Naya Rivera legitimately trash talk Lea Michele throughout her whole book because she knew she couldn't read it I CANT BREATHE."
Lea responded to the conspiracy theory back in 2018, but some people remained unconvinced.
The actress chose to laugh the whole thing off and tried to shut down the rumors with a tweet. In response to a fan who mentioned her, she wrote: "Loved READING this tweet and wanted to WRITE you back." But even then, fans took to the comments to keep poking fun at her by suggesting that someone else wrote her tweet for her.
The "Lea Michele is illiterate" conspiracy theory has taken off again recently on TikTok.
Fast forward to 2022. After Lea was cast in Funny Girl, she referenced the years-old conspiracy theory in an interview with The New York Times ... except, she didn't really dispel the rumor. "There’s a rumor online that I can’t read or write? It’s sad. It really is," she said. "I think often if I were a man, a lot of this wouldn’t be the case.”
Setting aside the question of whether her statement was accurate, it was definitely not helpful in getting people to stop talking about the rumor. At this point, Twitter and TikTok were in a frenzy trying to figure out the truth. And then Lea waded even deeper into the fray.
Lea Michele posted a TikTok video poking fun at the rumor ... but STILL neither confirming nor denying it.
Lea Michele joined TikTok and posted her first video in September of 2022. The "Lea Michele is illiterate" crowd invaded the comment section of the video and joked — yet again — about how she couldn't read anything that they were writing.
Finally, Lea posted a TikTok directly referencing the conspiracy theory. But! Still! Didn't! Debunk! It!
She shared a video of her appearing to talk on the phone with a text overlay that read: "Calling Jonathan [Groff] to read me the comments on my first TikTok."
Obviously, Lea is very much in on the joke here, but people can't get over the fact that she still hasn't provided any solid proof of her reading abilities. And honestly? It's not like she has to. Maybe she can read (probably she can), maybe she can't, but she seems to be doing just fine either way. We're not here to rain on her parade.