The Untold Truth Of Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth may have gotten her start on the stage, but even if you aren't a fan of Broadway, you've likely caught a glimpse of her at some point — or at least heard her trademark powerhouse vocals. After making a name for herself on the Great White Way, Chenoweth quickly branched out to film and television where she's starred in such hits as "Bewitched," "The West Wing," "Pushing Daisies," and "Schmigadoon!" Her most well-known role, of course, is as Glinda in the fan-favorite musical "Wicked," but Chenoweth has a lot more going for her than just starring roles.

As noted by Biography, Chenoweth has been nominated for three Tony Awards, winning one, and also has a Grammy under her belt. Outside of acting, she's released several solo albums, authored a memoir and a children's book, and advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though — there's plenty more to learn about Kristin Chenoweth.

Kristin Chenoweth was adopted as an infant

Born on July 24, 1968 (via Biography), Kristin Chenoweth was adopted when she was just a week old. She grew up knowing that she was adopted and had no feelings of resentment for her birth parents, writing on WhoSay (via Us Weekly) that her adoptive parents emphasized that they "chose" her. "It was a wonderful way to put it to an adopted child," she said. "And I think it's true. An adoption is a full-circle blessing."

Chenoweth has had nothing but good things to say about being adopted, speaking of it openly and protesting the "stigma" that often surrounds adoption. In a poignant essay for HuffPost, she described adoption as "one of the best things to ever happen to me," saying that her parents always spoke of her being adopted in frank and open terms. She added that "it is not something I have ever been ashamed of."

Chenoweth continued, explaining that, far from being angry with her birth mother, she was grateful that her birth mom knew "she wasn't ready to be a mom" and that she ended up with "wonderful parents who chose me."

She got her start singing in church

While you might assume that a Broadway star like Kristin Chenoweth would have gotten her start in, perhaps, a school play or a community theater organization, it was actually in church that she discovered her love of singing — and at quite a young age, too.

Chenoweth told Metro Weekly that she was around 7 years old when she auditioned for a choir solo, snagging a spotlight that had been originally intended for an adult. "I guess you could say that was the beginning," she said, although she added that talking about her pathway to stardom beginning at church "feel[s] a little funny" as she "view[s] church as a very sacred, special, spiritual place." That being said, she considers her church choir to have been "an incredible teaching, learning place for a young singer" that helped her really hone her talent in a nurturing environment.

This is why Kristin Chenoweth didn't take voice lessons as a kid

From that very first solo, it was clear that Chenoweth was a once-in-a-generation talent. In an interview with Talkin' Broadway, she said that her pipes were "much more mature than my age," but that her parents "didn't really know how to help" her develop her talent outside of letting her sing in church. That turned out to be a good thing, though. Chenoweth said that, by the time she was 10, she "had a very, very high soprano" and that her parents encouraged her to sing without pressuring her or morphing into stage parents. She said this meant she "got to have a childhood" while still pursuing her passion.

When she was around 12, she met with a vocal coach at the insistence of her piano teacher. The coach was impressed with Chenoweth's natural talent but said that she shouldn't take voice just yet. Chenoweth recalled to Beltline to Broadway that her parents were told to keep her out of lessons and to let her "develop naturally so she doesn't develop bad habits." While Chenoweth was initially disappointed, she said that she eventually realized the wisdom in those words. When she finally did begin formally training her voice in college, she said, "My voice opened up, and there was a lot less of bad technique."

Kristin Chenoweth was bullied growing up

While Kristin Chenoweth grew up in a loving family and had a huge talent, her childhood wasn't always a happy one. The budding star wasn't always accepted by her peers and was bullied growing up. Chenoweth has a high-pitched voice (all the better for hitting those stratosphere-defying notes when she sings), but she explained to The Sydney Morning Herald that this was the source of some spiteful barbs from her peers. Another weapon in their arsenal? Chenoweth's petite, 4'11" height, which she said she "was teased about, too.”

Consequently, Chenoweth is outspoken in her stance against bullying — and that includes standing up against grown-up bullies, too. ”I want to go on record and say that it doesn't end when you turn 18," she said. "Life goes on. Don't let them affect you.”

The diva has dealt with haters as an adult, of course, as any high-profile celeb does, but if being bullied as a kid has taught her anything, it's how to deal with negativity. "The haters online and on social media are there," she told Pride Source. "But I don't know ... I think I've gotten tougher or somethin'."

She didn't initially seek out Broadway stardom

Outside of her prodigious talent, Kristin Chenoweth had a fairly normal childhood. She told Beltline to Broadway, "I just sang in my choir, did drama, was a cheerleader, you know, student council, the normal kid stuff." While Biography notes that she majored in musical theater at Oklahoma City University, her first dream was to be an opera singer, and she even earned a master's degree in opera performance. Chenoweth was all set to achieve her dream, telling Talkin' Broadway that she even auditioned for the Met, where she won the Most Talented Up and Coming Singer Award. 

She was preparing to head to Philadelphia's Opera Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, but her career took a detour when she decided to go to a musical theater audition in support of her friend and "to see what a New York audition is like." Chenoweth ended up learning what auditioning is like — and then some. After waiting in line for several hours, she finally got her turn. "I sang an opera piece," she told NPR, "which is inappropriate for a show called 'Animal Crackers,' about the Marx brothers. Welcome to my brain!" 

To her surprise, she got a call-back and then landed a supporting role in the production, successfully launching her career. Of her decision to give up her opera dreams for musical theater, she told Beltline to Broadway, "It just changed, and I listened to my gut."

These are some of Kristen Chenoweth's biggest influences

Where does a mega-talent like Kristen Chenoweth find inspiration? In a lot of places. The singer has a versatile voice and a huge range that lends itself to many styles of music, which works out well since she loves so many different genres. She told GoPride Chicago that her favorites include country stars like Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire (who happen to also be very close friends), musical theater icons Julie Andrews and Judy Garland, and rapper Eminem.

The person who had the biggest impact on Chenoweth, though, was her mother. She told Broadway World that her mother was who truly kept her motivated. "She let me practice all the time, fed my need for ballet and piano, and encouraged me to be in choir and drama," she said. More important than letting Chenoweth explore her passion, though, was that she encouraged her to explore the limits of her potential rather than just perform as a hobby. "She told me it was okay to choose [performing] for a living," the Broadway star said.

Starring in Wicked was a dream come true for Kristin Chenoweth

"Wicked" was a huge breakthrough for Kristin Chenoweth. While she'd already been acting for several years by the time she originated the role of Glinda in 2003, as noted by Playbill, "Wicked" really put her on the map. Sure, she'd won a Tony in 1999 for her role as Sally Brown in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," but, as CBS News pointed out, the show shut down the day after she received her award. It wasn't the only short-lived success Chenoweth saw before the widespread acclaim she drew for "Wicked." In 2001, she landed her own sitcom, "Kristin," but it churned out just 13 episodes. "I always wanted to be in a show someone would have heard of," Chenoweth told CBS News.

"Wicked" certainly achieved that goal. While Chenoweth didn't win a Tony for her role — she was nominated but lost to her co-star, Idina Menzel (per Broadway World) — the show won two other Tony Awards and was nominated for several more. While Chenoweth only remained in the cast of "Wicked" for a few months, the show is still running, making it one of the longest-running productions on Broadway. "I got my wish," she told CBS News. "I am very proud I was involved in this."

Kristin Chenoweth was heartbroken after this show was canceled

One of Kristin Chenoweth's most memorable television roles is that of Olive Snook on "Pushing Daisies." The comedy about a piemaker with the power "to reanimate the dead simply by touching them" (per SyFy) ran for just two seasons, from 2007 to 2009. 

After the show was axed, Chenoweth won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role. "I'm unemployed so I'd like to be on 'Mad Men' and also 'The Office' and '24,'" she joked in her acceptance speech (via Broadway).

She might have been able to joke about the show's cancellation, but the premature end of "Pushing Daisies" was quite a blow to the actress, not just because it meant she had lost her job but also because it was a great show that should have aired for much longer. "I think the cancellation of 'Pushing Daisies' is the crime of the century," she told GoPride Chicago.

She has mixed feelings about her 'perfectionism'

Becoming one of the most respected names in the performance world takes not only talent but also a lot of determination. Fortunately, Kristin Chenoweth has both in spades, but having a Type A personality, in her opinion, isn't all it's cracked up to be. While Chenoweth's work ethic has gotten her to the top of her game, it's been a setback in other ways. ”It certainly doesn't help in my private life, but in my professional life it rocks to have this trait of perfectionism,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. ”I just don't know any other way to be. I wish I didn't care as much, but I can't help it.”

Chenoweth's ability to keep powering through has kept her going in a cutthroat industry, but her life hasn't always been as charmed as it seems. The actress has been quite vocal about the troubles she's faced, including depression. "I've sacrificed to be where I am," she confessed to PR.com.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

This is why Kristin Chenoweth says she's 'a very controversial figure in the Christian world'

Singing in church gave Kristin Chenoweth her start, but it also provided her with a solid foundation in her faith that has stayed with her through all of the highs and lows of her career. Chenoweth still considers herself to be quite religious, but her outspoken support for the LGBTQIA+ community has alienated some of the more conservative members of her faith. "I'm a very controversial figure in the Christian world," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. Chenoweth said that, to her, Christianity means she should be "loving and accepting of other people.”

It's a stance that has cost her some fans, she told Pride Source, and also got her booted out of the religious organization Women of Faith, but Chenoweth doesn't care. In 2013, she received The Vanguard Award from GLAAD, an award which, per GLAAD's website, "is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community." In her acceptance speech, she said, "I want to encourage many people of all faiths to come forward and stand with me."

An accident on the set of The Good Wife almost killed her

A terrifying incident in 2012 put Kristin Chenoweth's career on hold for a bit, but she was lucky to have escaped with her life. She opened up about the scary accident in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, explaining that a lighting rig had come loose on the set of "The Good Wife." Chenoweth was right under it when it fell, landing on her head. As horrific as it sounds, Chenoweth got lucky — the lighting rig knocked her out, fractured her skull, and caused injuries to her neck, ribs, hips, and even teeth, but it could have killed her. She was saved by the fact that it had landed on the front of her head, rather than the middle.

The recovery process was long, and Chenoweth's parents moved in with her to help her recuperate. As painful and as difficult as the process was, it did teach her an important lesson. "It forced me to be still and quiet and slow down for a second,” she said.

Meeting her birth mother was a pivotal moment for Kristin Chenoweth

In 2019, Kristin Chenoweth revealed to Katie Couric on her YouTube channel that she had finally met her birth mother after not knowing who she was for most of her life. Chenoweth told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2013 that she had never felt the need to search for her and that she was happy with her adoptive parents. She later had a change of heart, though, and it was a life-changing moment when Chenoweth finally did meet the woman who brought her into this world. "She's an incredible, incredible person," she told Couric.

Chenoweth's birth mother was 21 and single when she made the decision to give her baby up for adoption and asked for her forgiveness when they met. Chenoweth, however, answered that there was nothing to forgive, recalling that she told her, "'You gave me life. And my parents Junie and Jerry gave me a life. The chance at a life.'" Chenoweth added, "And I'm so grateful for her."

Kristin Chenoweth wants to write a Broadway musical

By this point, it may seem like Kristin Chenoweth has done it all. She's made a name for herself on stage and on the screen, and she's one of the biggest names in the performing arts. Chenoweth isn't one to rest on her laurels, though, and would like to write musicals, not just star in them. "I think about it a lot," she told Variety's theater podcast, "Stagecraft." She said that the musical would be inspired by her own life, with music that reflects her "own original sound."

Chenoweth also has a great idea for a musical about one of her idols, Dolly Parton. "I think there's a musical to be had of her life, and I think she feels the same," she told Town & Country. "I would love to examine that on Broadway and then go ahead and make a movie out of it."

We can't imagine when Chenoweth will find time to pen a musical, but we're sure that, if and when she does, it will be nothing short of a masterpiece.