On TV, Lea Michele plays Rachel Berry, the queen of the Gleeks, but despite Lea’s insistence that they have a lot in common, her real-life high school experience in Tenafly, N.J., was nothing like her alter ego’s. “We loved her. She was sweet and popular,” the Glee star’s close high school friend Rachel Schneider exclusively tells In Touch. Lea, now 23, began working on Broadway at a very young age — she was just 8 when she won her first big role, in Les Misérables. “She was a star,” says Schneider, who’s been tight with Lea since junior high. “But she never let it go to her head. She went and did the acting thing, but she was always herself. She was very concerned with her career, but she would hang out with us a lot when she was around.”
Like the character she plays, Schneider describes her pal as “super-dedicated” to her career, but says she still found time to goof off with her friends. She explains that their acting teacher, Mr. Collins, “would get mad at us” for passing notes. “Lea and I would make lists of guys we liked, and we’d get in trouble. She was a great student, and all the teachers knew that she was really talented, but we did talk a lot in class!” Aside from making those crush lists, though, Lea had little time for boys. “A lot of the senior guys liked her when she was a freshman, but she didn’t date anyone,” Schneider says.