Entertainment

Kristin Chenoweth: From Oklahoma Choir Girl to Broadway and Hallmark Star

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Actress Kristin Chenoweth is proof that it doesn't matter who you are or where you're from; you can make anything happen if you follow your dreams. Chenoweth, who was adopted as a baby in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, has transitioned from a little girl singing gospel songs in churches to a Tony Award-winning actress on Broadway. The tiny songstress (she's 4'11''), has garnered herself a whopping net worth of $16 million throughout her successful career. 

Kristin Dawn Chenoweth (born Kristi Dawn Chenoweth) was only 5 days old when Junie and Jerry Chenoweth adopted her. She grew up with an early appreciation for music, singing gospel songs in local churches, and even performing a solo at the Southern Baptist Convention national conference at a young age of 12. Once she got to high school, she started performing in theatre productions, and Chenoweth was hooked. She even attended the prestigious Oklahoma City University's musical theater program, where she also obtained a master's in opera performance. 

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Following college, Chenoweth performed in numerous regional theater productions around the United States before eventually making her way to Broadway in New York City. In one of her very first auditions, she waited in line for 8 hours before getting her chance to audition for Animal Crackers. Chenoweth told NPR that initially, she (inappropriately) auditioned by performing an opera song. 

"[He] said, 'Do you have something belty and up-tempo?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Can you dance?' I said, 'yes.' He said, 'Can you act?' I said, 'I don't know. Maybe. You give me the scene and we'll find out.' I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't know that was probably un-cool to say. I did the scene, and got the part. [And then] he said, 'Who's your agent?' I said, 'My dad... I don't have one.'"

Her big break came when she played Sally Brown in the 1999 revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, a role which earned the actress a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She went on to play the role of Glinda in the original Broadway cast of Wicked opposite Idina Menzel before moving out to Hollywood to play Annabeth Schott on Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing

Though Chenoweth periodically has returned to musical theatre, she has continued appearing in numerous films and TV shows over the years. She had her own short-lived NBC sitcom, Kristin, as well as various television roles, including Glee, Disney's TV film Descendants, Pushing Daisies (the role of Olive Snook earned her two Emmy Award nominations), the ABC comedy series GCB, The Good Wife, and even Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas films. She has also made film appearances in The Pink Panther, Bewitched, Four Christmases, and more.

The songstress has written more about her incredible rise to fame in her 2009 memoir, A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages. Though never married, Chenoweth was briefly engaged to Broadway actor Marc Kudisch. But for the past couple of years, the actress has been dating Josh Bryant, who is 14 years her junior. Who knows, maybe wedding bells are in their future!

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Kristin Chenoweth: From Oklahoma Choir Girl to Broadway and Hallmark Star