Lea Michele said the online rumor of her being unable to read or write was really "sad" and added that the accusation wouldn't have targeted her if she was a man.
Michele, who rose to fame with a starring role in the popular Ryan Murphy musical TV series, Glee–which ran from 2009 to 2015–was interviewed by the New York Times to discuss her taking over the role of Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl starting September 6.
During the interview, the 36-year-old Scream Queen alum addressed the once popular conspiracy theory of her being illiterate–which, according to i-d, traced back to a 2017 Facebook Live interview with pop culture podcasters.
"I went to Glee every single day; I knew my lines every single day."
"And then there's a rumor online that I can't read or write? It's sad. It really is."
Unsympathetic social media users mocked her.
According to Jezebel, the rumor stemmed from an anecdote found in the late Naya Rivera's book, Sorry Not Sorry, in which Rivera said her Glee co-star refused to improv scenes with veteran actor Tim Conway.
This led podcasters Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman of One More Thing being led to suggest her refusal to cooperate in the scene was because Michele already memorized the lines discreetly fed to her by the show's creator Ryan Murphy because of her supposed learning disorder.
"I think often if I were a man, a lot of this wouldn't be the case."
While Hunt and Ackerman didn't really believe Michele was illiterate–which the actress disputed in a tweet–their insinuation may have had more to do with Michele having been a child actress and simply not having time to learn how to read.
She was already on Broadway in the revival of Les Miserables by the time she was eight.
In the Times interview, Michele also addressed the 2020 controversy regarding former Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware accusing Michele of tormenting her on set with "traumatic microaggressions."
Ware also said working with the star was "a living hell."
Michele acknowledged her behavior at the time in an interview with PEOPLE and said:
"What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people."
Michele did not go into specifics of the 2020 allegation but told the New York Times she didn't "feel the need to handle things" via the media.
However, she did say the accusations against her evoked an "intense time of reflection" and now feels "more ready than I ever have before, both personally and professionally" to return to the stage.
"I really understand the importance and value now of being a leader."
"It means not only going and doing a good job when the camera's rolling, but also when it's not. And that wasn't always the most important thing for me."
"I have an edge to me. I work really hard. I leave no room for mistakes."
"That level of perfectionism, or that pressure of perfectionism, left me with a lot of blind spots."