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Glee star Lea Michele made her first public appearance Sunday at the Teen Choice Awards, where the Fox musical was honored as best comedy and the actress won for best actress, dedicating her win to late boyfriend and co-star Cory Monteith.
“I just wanted to be here today to personally thank all of you and tell everyone out there how much all of your love and support has meant to me over these very difficult few weeks,” an emotional Michele said from the stage at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif.
“I wanted to dedicate this award to Cory. For all of you out there who loved and admired Cory as much as I did, I promise that with your love we’re gonna get through this together. He was very special to me and also to the world. And we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, handsome smile and his beautiful, beautiful heart. So whether you knew him personally or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out and became a part of all of our hearts — and that’s where he’ll stay forever.”
Michele’s comments come nearly two weeks after the actress broke her silence following Monteith’s July 13 death. Monteith, her Glee co-star for four seasons and boyfriend of over a year, died at the age of 31. An autopsy revealed that the actor died of “mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol. The actress until Sunday had only issued a brief statement via Twitter thanking the legions of Glee fans for their support.
During Sunday’s Teen Choice Awards, Glee‘s Amber Riley (Mercedes) acknowledged her late co-star while accepting the win for favorite comedy series. “Although we lost someone that we really love and that you guys love, too, we are very fortunate to come back to a show where we feel the love of family, and Cory was like a brother to us.”
Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that Monteith’s Finn will be written out of Glee during the third episode of the show’s upcoming fifth season.
“Cory’s character will be written off and [it] will deal directly with drug addiction and the circumstances surrounding Cory’s death,” Reilly said, noting that the cast and creators of the series will film public service announcements about drug addiction. Additionally, proceeds from the third episode of Glee‘s upcoming fifth season will be donated to a new fund for the late actor. It remains unclear if Monteith’s Finn will be killed off on the series co-created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan is to pay tribute to Monteith — whom he described as an “older son” — with a tribute during the show’s third episode, assuming he and the producers “can get it perfect.”
“The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass,” Murphy said. “When we do the tribute episode to that character, we’ll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had [following Monteith’s death] — but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for.”
Murphy — who noted he was taking cues for the show from Michele — said his team didn’t intend to tackle the tribute episode until after the cast gathered to remember their friend and colleague during a recent memorial. Production resumed on Glee‘s fifth season last week.
Glee‘s Darren Criss and Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale co-hosted the awards, where Glee co-stars Chord Overstreet and Blake Jenner also took home awards.
Watch the video of Michele’s emotional acceptance speech, below. Glee returns Sept. 26 on Fox.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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