Kristin Dawn Chenoweth is an American singer and actress, with credits in musical theatre, film and television. In 1999, she won a Tony Award for her performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown on Broadway, and in 2003, she received wide notice for originating the role of Glinda in the musical Wicked. Her television roles have included Annabeth Schott in NBC's The West Wing and Olive Snook on the ABC comedy-drama Pushing Daisies, for which she won a 2009 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Chenoweth also starred in the ABC TV series GCB in 2012. Chenoweth sang gospel music as a child in Oklahoma and studied opera before deciding to pursue a career in musical theatre. In 1997, she made her Broadway debut in Steel Pier. Besides You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Wicked, Chenoweth's stage work includes five City Center Encores! productions, Broadway's The Apple Tree in 2006 and Promises, Promises in 2010, as well as Off-Broadway and regional theatre productions.
• Lisa Kudrow (Lisa Valerie Kudrow is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She gained worldwide r...)
• Gabrielle Union (Gabrielle Monique Union Wade is an American actress and former model. Among her notable roles is ...)
• Tracee Ellis Ross (Tracee Ellis Ross is an American actress, producer and television host. The daughter of singer/ac...)» All Actor Interviews
Hi, I'm Kristin.
So excited to be on here today!
I've done a lot of Broadway, TV, and movies and concert work. Excited to share some of those experiences and memories with you.
And my latest is Coming Home.
Victoria's helping me out in-person today, along with my adorable dog, Madeline Kahn Chenoweth.
Update: Thank you for spending time with me today. Wherever you are in the world, remember to inspire so that you can be inspired. God bless.
My wife and I fell in love with you as Olive Snook in “Pushing Daisies” and my kids find you hysterical every time we watch “Rio 2.”
Also, I was at one of your performances a few years ago. I’m a father of two daughters, and it was the first time I had heard “Fathers and Daughters.” I had never had a song move me like that, and I must admit I got misty-eyed.
Here are my questions:
Your voice is so peppy, powerful, and unique – do you think that has typecast you in certain roles? Would you even be interested in doing more dark, dramatic roles?
In Rio 2, what was the environment like working with Jermaine Clement? Did you two improvise a lot of your scenes?
There was a lighting accident a couple years ago that you have since recovered from, how did that accident affect you professionally and personally?
Any news about “Pushing Daisies” or “Rio” that I can share with my family?
First of all, thank you for all of what you said. "Fathers and Daughters" is in my top 5 tracks on "Coming Home." When you watch the DVD, my own father is sitting in the second row, and singing it to him gets me a little choked up, and you can hear that.
I have been lucky to have not been typecast. All the roles I've played are very different. The different things my voice does, vocally, has been helpful in my career- opera, to musical theater, to country - is all in my new DVD, and my concert work. I'm not necessarily known for dramatic work, but I did a Broadway show that was a darker role for me, and I enjoy those too, because that's a part of life. Just because I'm a basically happy person does not mean that I don't have dark times, I don't battle depression - and as an artist, music and acting is a way to show that in different roles, so yea, I always look for those kind of roles too.
BUT comedy is the most challenging, it's the hardest thing. And it's what I'm known for, so ... that's a big part of who I am.
We never met until the junket! The movie was over. We did completely hit it off. I'm a huge fan of his, just separately from RIO 2. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS- I knew about that show before EVERYBODY else, and then I get to be with him in a movie, so I was really hoping we would hit it off, which we did! I send him love to New Zealand! I can't wait to see his new movie, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. I think he's... on par with Christopher Guest. They are genius parody actors. He's a genius. I loved that movie. I was so proud to be in that movie.
I'm still recovering. I had a head injury, and I have a bad neck. Head injuries are interesting, because you can't really explain... why time isn't the same. Looking at a script is different for me now. I have photographic memory, and it's coming back, but imagine being unplugged, and then plugged back in. Never had anxiety before. I'm very transparent here, I think it's important for people to know. So I'm dealing with anxiety for the first time in my life. And so personally, that has made me sad. I never had that. I used to think that people who had anxiety, it was possibly made-up? I didn't have that empathy.
I do now.
It changed my view on what's important in life. I love what I do. I can't do anything else, I don't know HOW to do anything else. But really what's important are my family and my friends... and being the kind of artist I want to. And sometimes that doesn't mean taking the big money jobs, sometimes it means no money, but thankfully, I'm in a position to get to do that. It was... a scary, the scariest thing that's ever happened to me.
Also, I downplayed it a lot when it happened.
Well, I know that Brian Fuller would very much like to do a musical version of PUSHING DAISIES. And I would very much like for him to do that. He's said that publicly, and we've talked about it and i just want to encourage him to do that, because none of our cast got closure. We didn't find out that we were cancelled until Christmas, and so we were all out for Christmas break and didn't get to say goodbye. It was a cult favorite, and I'm probably the most proud of that. I liked playing the underdog. I liked playing the woman who was in love with a man that she couldn't have. I don't think there's a person alive who doesn't understand loving a person they can't have - maybe they're emotionally unavailable, married, in love with somebody else - who knows the reason, but that was a good part. Olive Snook, I loved her. Plus she was a terrible waitress.
So Martin Sheen is doing an AMA in like 45 minutes. Wouldn't it be awesome if you dropped in and started asking him questions? Sort of a mini-West Wing reunion?
I would basically want to say to him that I miss him. And that we've never had a better President!
Craziest thing that happened on the set of Wicked?
I think, for me, being onstage, and what made me break character TERRIBLY - unprofessional, completely, but it could not be helped. We had "Verilights" which are movable lights - and for some reason, a group of them got stuck on a section of the audience. So about 20 people were in a spotlight, and they were VERY uncomfortable. So seeing them be uncomfortable, made me laugh SO HARD - they wanted to see WICKED, and yet all we can see is them... yeah, that to me... I laughed, and everybody on stage was laughing so hard too... not professional.
But delightful nonetheless.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Wicked movie? Any interest in being involved?
First of all, I'm glad they are going to do a movie. I figured they'd do it someday - I don't know when it's planned for. I mean of course i'd love to be involved - it is a huge part of my life. I don't know who I'd play - I'd be interested in Madame Morrible at this point - it gives a bigger audience a chance to see the show, and that makes me happy, whether I'm involved or not.
What does Lee Pace smell like?
I don't even remember. I know that he always smelled lovely. I wouldn't say daisies, but I would say he smelled good?
Any chance of April returning during the final season of Glee? Your appearances were always my favorite!
Aww I Loved her! I don't know what happened to April!
I imagine that April's getting drunk somewhere, making a pass at some younger, unfortunate man.
It was a great experience. Again, another part completely different from what I'd done before.
I think it's fair to say that besides your incredible talent, a portion of your success comes from your very unique, incredibly easy to identify voice.
Was there ever a time that you disliked your voice? What do you think about it now?
It's incredibly difficult for me to hear myself on a recording, speaking.
Singing - that I can listen to, and critique it and listen to it.
I feel like I sound like a bug too. I feel like a combination of Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe, and a 5 year old. And my voice will never have balls in it. And that's good. It is a unique voice. It is probably a voice that some find, I'm sure, annoying (in fact, I'm sure cuz I've read it) but it is mine. And more so than when I walk down the street it's when I speak that people recognize me.
So I think surely it's probably hurt me in my career, but mostly it's been a blessing. It's unique. I'm never going to be Demi Moore. It's never gonna happen. She's amazing and got her sound. But I'm never going to be a sex call operator. It's never going to happen.
would you ever host Saturday Night Live? And do you have a favourite cast member from any season?
It's no secret that I've been wanting to host that for years. Never been asked. My favorite all-time SNL cast member was Molly Shannon.
Hi from Paris! I remember you said once that you wanted to do horror. Bryan Fuller's been talking about how he wants to get you on Hannibal-any plans to guest star on Hannibal? And if you were to be on the show, how would you want to die (or would you want to be a criminal)?
Side note, I was in the audience of your solo show at Berkley a few years ago, the night you revealed that GCB had been cancelled. You absolutely killed it that night, definitely the best show I’ve ever been to.
First of all, we've tried and our dates keep fouling up. My dream is to be on that show. I love him. I think it is the most underrated show on television, and it's so good. I already know what he thought of me doing on the show, and as long as i'm eaten - I don't care.
puts face in hands
Thank you. You were there at a very unique time in my life, RIGHT before the show I found out GCB was cancelled. That was also my second show on tour. So I... decided that was going to be one of the best shows I was ever gonna give.
Because just because i got bad news, I was going to use that and perform like I was never going to perform again.
Hey Kristin! Thanks for doing an AMA. One time I was at my parents' house listening to "Glitter and Be Gay" from Candide. It's a very silly, showy, and loud song. My dad walked in the room and said, "Wow. It sounds like somebody's got her tit in a wringer." Then he just wandered off.
Anyway, one of my mom's friends went to high school with you in Oklahoma and she says you're a genuinely nice person in real life. Do you feel like that's still true?
clutches hand to heart
Yes! It sounds funny to say I'm a genuinely nice person... about yourself?
I can tell you this. I have issues and problems like everybody else, but I'm basically a happy person, and that's what comes across.
Hi Kristin, thanks for doing an AMAA. My question is do you still keep in touch with Sarah Horn, the girl who sang "For Good" with you at the Hollywood Bowl?
Wasn't that a neat, cool experience?
I hear from her on occasion, and I'm so glad that that... did for her what it did for her. I think the most positive thing that came from it i that she got to show her students - because she's a teacher - that she could sing, you know?
And she was inspired. I saw it happen! On the stage!
That is the best thing ever - to see someone have a dream happen. I was standing next to her when she realized she was onstage, and at the Hollywood Bowl, and singing.
I stay in contact with her, but I don't get to talk to her very much. But I do think about her, and I hope it's just continuing on for her.
Recent OCU Grad here! What was your best memory from OCU?
HA!!! First of all, go Chiefs! (or Stars)
There's so many.
It's hard for me to decide.
Um... my last year there, my mentor Florence Birdwell - after I'd completed a song in master class, looked at me, and said "I think you might be ready."
And for me, she'd never said that before.
She not only had to teach me how to - you know - I had to grow my repertoire, I had to learn how to sing better, I had to hone all my skills, but I needed to grow up. And she toughened me up in all the right ways. And helped prepare me for this life.
To this day, i hear her in my head - critiquing me, telling me I did good, saying the opposite (that wasn't your best!) - I hear her in my head.
And that is something - no matter how much money I spent on my education, it was worth every penny.
And I met my best friends there. I had the best experiences. I got to be in the chorus, I got to build the stage (they probably didn't want me to do that often, because I was terrible at it), I got to play parts ... but I knew I was prepared for the next step.
Those were good memories. That was a good day.
I cared about her opinion. I still care about her opinion.
That's a good teacher for you, I think.
What celebrities would you like to meet that you've not met yet?
Oh my goodness.
Simon Pegg... I love all his movies!
God, I just had a list the other day...
Honestly, I'm a little obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch.
I'm obsessed with Bravo and PBS - that says a LOT about me.
I also love Frances McDormand. I would love to meet her. I'm afraid I would probably geek out - I have a tendency to get quiet. When I met Julie Andrews, I couldn't speak! That's not a great representation but...
Who else would I love to meet? Celine Dion, I'd love to meet her. I just admire her voice, and she seems to have done things really right, you know?
I'm lucky, I've gotten to meet a lot of people I admire. I've gotten to meet Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews, Sandy Patty - these are the people I admire - Liza Minelli, Bernadette Peters. I've gotten to work with them, or meet them!
Meeting Dolly was a really cool moment.
Placido Domingo. Carol Burnett, let's just start there. Carol-freaking-Burnett. I have a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with her. She was a huge influence on me growing up, we never missed her show.
I never got to meet Leonard Bernstein. My favorite composer...because he passed away. I would've loved that.
What is the weirdest thing you've ever been asked to do as a performer?
Well, on a talk show - I believe it was Craig Ferguson, one of the funniest men of late night - he knows that I can crack every joint in my body, and he made me sing a High C while cracking my knuckles. That was weird, but I did it!
If there was one role you could go back and get on anything, who would it be and why?
I've always wanted to play MY FAIR LADY. I love that movie! That would've been a... great part to create. I always think, though, for Julie Andrews, that must've been heartbreaking. She won the Tony on Broadway for it, but they cast Audrey Hepburn in the movie, and then got Marnie Mixon to sing for Audrey Hepburn. So I often look at that from Julie's standpoint and think "Wouldn't that have been hard?"
But the next year she gets Mary Poppins and wins the Oscar. So it all evens out.
Would you rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
The one big one. I think so. And it also reminds me of David and Goliath. And hopefully, if you have enough faith and a good weapon. I'd just give him a piece of bread and leave.
Kristin, I took the day off work to talk to you, you're more important than "high end retail" anyways. Haha. Speaking of fashion my question is, what designer do you mostly wear?
First of all, I love fashion. Lately... I've been into Helmut Lang, Isabel Marant, Rag & Bone... Those are kind of what I've been doing lately. I also like... ALC. I also like L'Agents. I'm always gonna be a fan of Theory (because they have 00, don't get mad at me for that, I can't help it!) But I'm not above going to Bebe either!
I like BCBG.
First time on a Broadway stage ? What was it like ?
It was a play. Called "Scapin" by Moliere.
I don't remember it. Because it was a dream come true, and I just can't remember. It was a blur. So now each time I get to be on Broadway, I REALLY pay attention and enjoy the experience. Last week was our first week in the theater, rehearsing. And I just took in that moment, of incredible sets, and lighting and costumes, and I thought I get to be on Broadway.
Don't forget this moment.
I still get welled up. I still think it's like my Broadway debut every time I'm on. It still feels that way, i don't know why. It's never old, it's always special.
can you give me some advice for a first date? all of the guys i've gone out with before have turned out to either be obsessive maniacs or just nasty :(
The biggest advice I can give you is to listen. As Oprah says... "people show you who they are pretty quick. It's up to you whether you listen."
If somebody shows you who they are - listen.
What do you look for when considering a new role/project?
I always look for a role that's not like anything I've ever done before.
Because that means it will be a challenge.
I also enjoy, you know, in my 20's I enjoyed playing the ingenue. Now I'm a leading lady, and I'm enjoying what comes with that. But I will always be a character. So I always look for the character in the role. Which is why doing ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY - it's a Broadway show, and it's - all I can say is Madeline Kahn created the role, and you know, I want to do it justice, but that's the kind of role i look for. Something a little "off." All the characters I play are a little... quirky.
And I think - off-center. More like, real life?
Not everybody's vanilla. Even the most vanilla person has an aspect of them that nobody knows about.
And that's what I like playing.
Huge fan here!
What's one strange and unique thing that you're really good at doing? Besides being a triple threat, of course.
Oh! I can pluck eyebrows, REALLY good. I'm very good at "manscaping." I manscaped most of my ex-boyfriends.
I also do brows for men and women.
I'm also a good Bedazzler. I'm good with smaller stones. I do it by hand. I bedazzled my Oklahoma City Thunder hat, and people want to know where I got it.
Hey! I'm a classically trained soprano who hopes to pursue a career in musical theatre. I was wondering what you found were the advantages and disadvantages of having studied opera performance, in terms of a career in musical theatre? p.s I used to be a member of Glitter when I was in high school and I honestly miss it all the time!
Awwwwwww. I loved Glitter.
It was a fan club that they started, after WICKED, called GLITTER, and I thought it was just cool!
The advantages of the way you're being trained is teaching you to get through 8 shows a week. I can't really thin of a disadvantage, other than you utilize your training so you can do other styles. So though you're concentrating on opera, that should be strengthening your belt and other styles you do. It's like the way I view ballet - ballet is to me, the center, the core, the main dance form. It should enable dancers to go and do other styles. And that's the way I view training operatically. I'm a belter too. I sing country music too. But the important thing is doing healthfully and sustainably.
was the cast of Bojack Horseman as magical as i hope it is?
You know, when you do voiceover work, you go in separately. You don't really get to work with all the people, which is the big bummer of voiceovers. I've met them separately, on different occasions, over the past year, but I don't get to go in and actually work with them. But I love the show! It's cute!
Hi kristin, Doritos locos Tocos or 3 Piece meal from KFC? help me decide my lunch please. Thank you.
No question, Doritos from Taco Bell. It's a taco and a Dorito. No question.
Hey Kristin! I love you and your work, I got to see you in Promises Promises and you were fantastic! My question is: Have you ever dreamed that you were actually one of your characters? Like you dreamed you were in Oz and you really were Glinda? Thanks.
Aw, that's sweet!
Luckily - haha! - I have not. I've had the typical nightmare, where I've dreamed I've gone out onstage as a character, and not been able to remember the words. I've had this recurring dream twice. And this dream I think is interesting.
I've dreamed that I've gone back into WICKED, but they changed all the blocking and the words.
And the people in the show are trying to help me along, but I still don't know where to go, where to stand, I don't know the words, they're different... I think it's interesting. I don't know what it means. Other than if I went back, people always say "Would you want to go back?"
Well if I went back, wouldn't it be different? Plus I'm 10 years older, I'm a little bit different! I've lived a little bit more!
Do you remember the moment when you knew you had truely "made it"?
I'm still waiting for that moment!
OK so I know you like chain restaurants. What was the last chain restaurant you went to and what did you order?? (blooming onion!!?)
face in hands
OH MY GOD I LOVE BLOOMING ONIONS!
What was I just at? Applebee's. Chinese Chicken Salad.
What is your favorite kind of ice cream?
Mint chocolate chip, from Baskin-Robbins.
Who's your girl crush?
Well, luckily I got to work with her - Jennifer Lopez is pretty high on that list.
Your career has evolved a lot over the last 10 years or so, what are you hoping is the next step?
I think about this a lot lately. I've been in transition for the past 2 years. I am loving stepping into the leading lady parts. I obviously am looking for an interesting off-center character to play on TV again. I would love to bring back the old-style variety show. I want to keep working. I'm single, and I gotta pay my rent just like everybody else.
Hi Kristin, you've performed in London before in concert but would you ever consider doing a West End show?
From a hopeful UK fan!
YES! I would LOVE to do a West End show. I would love to even do ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY there. That would be a dream come true. It's on my bucket list.
Ohh i'm so new to this lol! If you could too be a disney princess what would you want your character to be like? Fierce and feisty? :)
Well, on Tinkerbell, I played the fairy Rosetta, she was pretty feisty!
Obviously I'd want her to be little. I would want her to be able to fly. Obviously I'd want her to be able to have magical powers. I would love her to be a fish out of water, so I'd bring her from a magical time to today's world, trying to figure out what the heck has happened to her. And she'd have an adorable dog - OF COURSE! Right Maddie?
What aspects of NYC still give you the same buzz they did when you first moved there?
Christmastime in NYC, there's nothing better than Rockefeller Center's Christmas Tree! And the excitement around the arts, in and of itself, the opening of an Opera at the met, the opening of an art gallery - there's that energy that you can't get ANYWHERE else in the world except for NYC. I love it here. Best city in the world.
What's Dolly really like?
EXACTLY what you would imagine.
Kind, funny, petite - she is! - ageless, funny, character, smart. And quotable. And I've never seen her without hair and make up. I admire it. I'm lucky if i can get a hat on my head.
Hi Kristin! Big fan sending my love from Toronto, Canada! How does playing Lily Garland compare to your past roles? How did you have to prepare for On the Twentieth Century?
First of all, LOVED my time in Toronto! Massey Hall was one of my favorites. I haven't had to dance like this, in a good 20 years? I've had to change my diet. To be frank, I've had to eat more, I've had to eat protein, I've had to dance every day. I.. also have to sing legit operatic. I've had to warm up my body, warm up my voice, it's also an incredibly physically comedic role. It's not a walk in the park. It is the toughest part for me I've ever had. It's hard.
Hey, first off congrats on the great start for 2015 for you! Tomorrow is the release of the Coming Home dvd and soon you'll be back on broadway. My question is do you have any unannounced upcoming projects that you can share with us? Thanks for the time too!
Awww! I don't know if it's unannounced, but I have a cool project I'm really proud of that is coming out in August for Disney Channel called "The Descendants" where I play Maleficent - "The Descendants" are about the Villain's kids. I love the message of the movie, which is "are they going to go out and do evil in the world, or do good in the world?" And Maleficent gets to sing and dance too, which is fun! I can' wait for people to see it.
Is there any chance you will do a concert here in China? Are there any difficulties? I have heard many stories about performers cancelling their shows due to visa issues. Is that a myth or do you know anything about it? (You don't have to answer all these questions. I'm only asking because I know there are huge fans of yours here in China such as I who would definitely give you the warmest welcome.)
It's a place I've always dreamed of going. I think the shopping experience would be amazing for me, haha! I was in Malaysia and Hong Kong and Singapore performing before, and I loved it. So yeah! I don't know what's involved, but for sure, I would love - the same way I feel about going to Scotland. I've always wanted to China, Scotland and Spain. So someday!
To be honest, the warnings are a little bit more widespread because of where we are in our world - with travel, and security, and of course visas, but to me, it would be worth any risk because I would be doing what I loved.
I always say to my family that if something happens to me, flying or what not, I died doing what I loved. So... I probably won't do a concert in Afghanistan, but I would definitely love to go to China.
1-10, how fun was it doing The Boy Next Door?
SO fun. I'd always wanted to be in a thriller / horror genre film. And luckily, I was with Jennifer, who made it really fun. And Ryan (who played the boy next door) was actually really nice. I put a lot of my trust in the director. We became like a little family, like all of us do - when you have these experiences, you bond. I loved it.
Good afternoon! Thanks for doing this. I had to sing "It's a Fish" from The Apple Tree in a vocal performance class. What was your favorite moment while doing that show?
Act 1, Mark Twain's "Adam and Eve" - it's really a play, with music. Of course all the music is incredible - Bock and Harnick wrote it - but Mark Twain's "Adam and Eve" to me is one of the most perfect details of the differences between men and women. And also why we love each other. So if you haven't read the diary of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain you should! Especially if you're doing the show.