Lea Michele Talks Being Vulnerable With Ryan Murphy, Embracing Her "Very Ethnic Look"

Lea Michele - H 2015
Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Lea Michele has a lot to balance: Between starring in Ryan Murphy's Scream Queens to spending time with her boyfriend, Matthew Paetz, the actress handles a rather hectic schedule. But the 29-year-old shared with The Hollywood Reporter her tips and tricks to maintain a healthy and happy life through the roller coaster of Hollywood. Her best tip? Journaling.

The New York native opened up about her passion for writing down her goals and venting on paper in her latest book, You First: Journaling Your Way to Your Best Life. The book is designed as a guided journal to help her fans navigate through their own respective challenges. From writing down goals to recording one's eating habits, Michele set out to teach readers how to find time for themselves even in the midst of life's crazy demands.

"I take time for me to put myself first every day because I am not at my best if I can’t be my best," Michele told THR. "Whether it’s to work out, spend time with the people that I love, get a good night's sleep, watch reality TV, have a glass of wine — I take that time so that I can be strong, focused and prepared for my job or whatever life might bring my way."

Michele also told THR that her favorite part of the book is her section on goal-setting, since planning for the future has worked out well for her. This year, her New Year's resolution was to work on a new TV show that would showcase a different side of her acting. With landing the role as Hester Ulrich on Scream Queens, her wish came true. But the actress says working on the Fox hit is still an adjustment.

"With a new show, it takes time to create a routine. I definitely had one with Glee," said Michele. That was seven years, so towards the end you really are in a sort of rhythm. With Scream Queens, it's taking some time to find the rhythm, but no matter what’s going on, I worked hard in my life to create a solid ground, so I feel like a lot can come my way and I can handle it."

In You First, Michele also mentions that Scream Queens creator Ryan Murphy is one of her best role models. She greatly admires his ability to stay grounded.

"Ryan is an incredibly powerful, talented, mega-genius of a man," said Michele. "But he’s still the same guy who goes home, reads books to his son, has dinner with his husband, gets cozy at home with his 900 dogs and has genuine moments with friends and family as a normal person. And it’s so important to me when I see people that are so successful but who still try to be a normal friend and person. We need to take that time at the end of our day to focus on the people that we lay our heads down with at night."

Both she and Murphy have a rocky history of people telling them that they would never achieve their dreams, but Michele is adamant that building personal strength is the key to get through difficulties in the industry.

"I think that this business is very tricky. And you definitely have extreme highs and lows. I think that people definitely want to build you up and they want to pull you down. But talent will always prevail, and so will your personal strength. I believe that's been my story in the industry, and I think it’s been Ryan’s as well. When you have a brain like Ryan, that he can just constantly come up with such inventive, incredible ideas. He will always be transforming despite whatever might come his way because with a force like that, you can’t really be stopped by anyone."

The actress admits that even with healthy self-confidence, the cutting words of harsh critics can still be painful. But she emphasizes that having supportive friendships, like the one she shares with Murphy, is essential to filter Hollywood's criticism.

"It hurts. I see the vulnerable side of Ryan. He doesn’t show that to a lot of people. I show my vulnerable side to him a lot, which is why I consider him such a good friend. It’s important to have people in your life who you can be vulnerable in front of. He doesn’t show that to a lot of people, but it’s certainly there. Still at the end of the day, he rises above it, and he succeeds. This is really just the beginning of what Ryan Murphy has in store."

Michele also elaborates in her new book about another personal role model: Barbra Streisand, who helps the Scream Queens star love her own unique qualities.

"I sort of overall have a very ethnic look. My mother’s 100 percent Italian. My father’s Sephardic. I have insanely curly natural hair. I have my dad’s Jewish nose. I have a unique ethnic look that along the way people definitely told me would hold me back, and I chose to not listen to them and to know that my uniqueness would get me to all of the places that I wanted to be in my life. It was when I embraced those unique aspects of my physicality and my personality that I believe I became the most successful in my career."

When it comes to responding to those who doubted her abilities, Michele has a clear message: she continues to put herself first and couldn't care less about confronting them.

"I think the proof is in the pudding, by continuing to work and have my face get on the cover of magazines, which I’m sure that years ago they thought would never happen to me. The more I keep just living my life, and being happy, and working hard, is enough. I don’t have to say a word."