Kristin Chenoweth (born July 24, 1968) is an American singer, musical theatre, film, and television actress, and author. Some of her best-known roles have included her role as Sally Brown in Broadway's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, her role as Glinda in Broadway's Wicked, and her role as Annabeth Schott in television's The West Wing. She most recently appeared in the role of Olive Snook on the ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies for which she won the 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Chenoweth is also the face of Jude Frances jewelry.
Chenoweth has a distinctive speaking voice. In FHM's March 2006 issue, she compared her voice to that of Betty Boop.
Chenoweth is a classically trained coloratura soprano, and well known for her skilled singing technique and artistic interpretations. She has a vocal range of four octaves. Chenoweth is able to sing the note "F6" (1396.913Hz), also known as "F above High C".
Adopted at birth, Kristi Dawn Chenoweth grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Her lineage includes one-quarter Cherokee ancestry. Her vocal ability and talent were realized at a young age, performing songs for local churches. A highlight of her childhood was a special solo appearance at the Southern Baptist Convention national conference at the age of 12. She performed the song "I'm Four Foot Eleven and I'm Going to Heaven" for an audience of approximately 40,000 delegates.
Chenoweth attended Oklahoma City University, where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta (Beta Omicron) Sorority. She earned a degree in musical theatre and a master's degree in opera performance, studying under voice instructor Florence Birdwell. Professor Birdwell has trained other notables such as Miss America 1981 Susan Powell and three-time Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara. It was Birdwell who suggested to Chenoweth that she add an "n" to her first name, reasoning that the name "Kristin" was perhaps more classically suited for an opera singer. While at OCU, Chenoweth won the title of "Miss OCU" and went on to win second runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma pageant in 1991. For a period of time, she performed on stage at Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee.
Chenoweth won a number of competitions, including a "most talented up-and-coming singer" award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, which came with a full scholarship to Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts. Two weeks before school started, she went to New York City to help a friend move. While there, she auditioned for the Paper Mill Playhouse's production of the musical Animal Crackers and got the role of Arabella Rittenhouse. She turned down the scholarship and moved to New York to do the show and pursue a career in musical theatre. She is 4 ft 11 in (150 cm).
Chenoweth has written a memoir about her life, A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, describing her adoption, her turn in Wicked and her time in Hollywood. She has stated that the book is not a "tell all", and instead focuses on "how I got where I am so far". The book was released on April 14, 2009. The book spent two weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List.
Chenoweth has spoken publicly about her faith; she describes herself as a "non-judgmental, liberal Christian". Raised as a Southern Baptist, she later chose to have a personal connection to a faith that is not based in any one denomination. When in California, she attends a non-denominational church in Malibu. In New York, she attends a United Methodist Church.
Chenoweth also has a large gay fanbase, and was uninvited from a Women of Faith conference in September 2005 "due to her publicized and heartfelt beliefs that God is accepting of all people on earth," including homosexuals.
Chenoweth released an album in April 2005 called As I Am, a mixture of hymns and contemporary Christian music, with adult contemporary arrangements. To promote the album, she made an appearance on The 700 Club, an appearance that upset some of her gay fans. She later said she thought that the "Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the world are scary" and that she regretted appearing on the show.
Chenoweth was once engaged to actor Marc Kudisch and previously dated virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell and Survivor host Jeff Probst.
She has dated and remains close friends with producer/writer Aaron Sorkin. In Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the character of Harriet Hayes bears significant resemblances to Chenoweth, and the relationship between the Christian Hayes and "East Coast liberal Jewish atheist" (her description) Matt Albie is modeled after that between Chenoweth and Sorkin; Chenoweth's decision to appear on the 700 Club and her falling out with Women of Faith were depicted with the Hayes character.
Chenoweth has Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disorder which can cause vertigo, among other symptoms. She has said that, during some performances, she has had to literally lean on her co-stars to keep her balance.
Chenoweth was awarded an honorary doctorate in Performing Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on May 30, 2009, where she was the commencement speaker.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
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