If you've ever seen or heard Kristin Chenoweth sing, you know she is a pint-sized ray of sunshine. She oozes joy and grace and love for her audience from every pore of her 4-foot-11-inch frame. Plus, girlfriend has a spot-on, finely calibrated sense of comic timing. (I dare you to watch her perform and not at least crack a smile. She is enchanting, her natural ebullience utterly infectious.)
What you may not know is that Chenoweth, 44, is a Christian. Born and raised in the Southern Baptist tradition where she accepted Jesus into her heart at the tender age of 8, "Cheno," as she is known to her legion devoted fans, now describes herself as a nondenominational "non-judgmental, liberal Christian." Her devotion to Jesus and His Way is something she's never been shy about, both before and after she took Broadway by storm in her early 20s.
A classically-trained colaratura soprano, she won a 1999 Tony Award for her performance as Sally Brown in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and was nominated for a Tony and a slew of other awards for her portrayal of Glinda (the Good Witch) in Wicked. She won a 2009 Emmy Award for her work on the series Pushing Daisies and has twice been nominated for an Emmy for her guest appearances on Glee. She now appears on the ABC series GCB, which you can read a bit more about HERE and HERE.
In 2005, Chenoweth recorded an album of gospel and contemporary Christian songs titled As I am, and in 2009, published the memoir A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, where she talked in depth about her faith, life and art.
"One of the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish as an entertainer is to let people know there are real people in the real world trying to be what God wants them to be,” she said in an interview with Pat Robertson's 700 Club, an appearance she later said she regretted as it upset her gay fans.
“I'm sick of people who've never been to church telling me that church is full of hypocrites, and people who've never read the Bible telling me that it's baloney," she wrote in her memoir. "I'm a very controversial figure in the Christian world. I don't believe if you're gay or you have a drink or you dance, you're going to hell. I don't think that's the kind of God we have. The Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the world are scary. I want to be a Christian like Christ — loving and accepting of other people."
Cheno my kind of Christian. God bless your enormous, tender heart, little lady.
So, without further ado, I give you:
The Top Ten Reasons I — and maybe you, too — (Heart) Kristin Chenoweth:
1) Taylor the Latte Boy, She Loves Him
2) Glenda, Glittery and Gay
3) Is Sleepless, in 14G
4) Promises, Never Fall in Love Again
5) Says A Little Prayer, For You
6) Auditions for Star Trek, Spocktacular
7) Over the Rainbow, Acapella
8) Hopelessly Devoted, Pushing Daisies
9) Asks Herself, What Would Dolly Do?
10) Honors Heroes, Borrowed Angels
BONUS: 11) Every Time She Laughs, An Angel Gets Its Wings
Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. She is the author of four nonfiction books, including the memoir Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, and her latest, BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @GodGrrl