Catching Up With Kristin Chenoweth
By Phillip B. Crook
A church community was very much a part of your upbringing. So what was that like moving from Oklahoma to New York City?
Mind-blowing. The hardest transition was about life things: where do I get my groceries? Where are the people asking you if you want help? They don't exist here. Life is different, but I got accustomed to it pretty quickly. I love New York.
You competed in beauty pageants in Oklahoma growing up, and your platform issue was AIDS awareness. Why did you choose that?
I remember people encouraging me not to have that as my platform because they thought that would hurt my chances of winning. But I've always listened to my heart. Too many people I knew were getting sick and had died from AIDS. I watched my voice teacher waste away and a piano coach die. When you see that happen, it changes the way you look at the disease. It took our government so long to realize that this was an epidemic. It's not a gay disease, but you know what? It wouldn't matter if it were. It's a disease and it needs to be dealt with.
Do you think that issue is why you didn't make it to Miss America?
No. I don't think that was in God's plan. I'm a big believer in the journey. Twice I got first runner up, and I thought, You're supposed to hear this message. You are not going to be Miss America. I had two more years to keep doing it, but I knew it wasn't meant to be. I knew that I would have another voice in another area. Really, all I wanted to be Miss America for was to sing and get an agent. So, my reasons for wanting to win weren't right.
How would you describe your faith?
I'm a forward-thinking Christian, but it's actually rooted in a very old way of thinking. What would Jesus do if he were alive today? If he were alive, he'd be hanging out with the people who are poor or sick or in need. My only sense about myself is that I don't get to do that enough. I'd love to see Christianity get back to that. "Christian" is a dirty word now, but I'm proud of my faith. I'd like to be the face of this kind of Christian.
Seeing that you're a recurring guest star, what do you think we'll say when we look back on what Glee did for television?
The plays and movies and shows that reach people the most are the ones that point out our differences and challenges. When you look at Wicked, you see a supposed good girl and a supposed bad girl. But really it's just two very insecure, misunderstood girls. The same for what The West Wing did for politics, Glee is doing for the gay drama of high school. It's promoting discussions with our kids' if they're allowed to watch the show, that is.
And what do you think Glee is doing for the presence of Broadway on TV?
What it's doing not only for Broadway, but for Carrie Underwood and Fleetwood Mac, is those artists' sales jump when you hear them on Glee. People download the song immediately. Some of them don't even know what Cabaret is. I saw a lot of kids online saying, 'That 'Maybe This Time' song is so good.' I was like, "You don't know that song?!" But, whatever it takes.
This is kind of random, but I really want to hear about your friendship with Kathy Griffin.
I know she teases people pretty rough sometimes, but there's a really kind person in there who has a huge heart. I've gotten to know that side. She'd give you the shirt off her back, and I know she's done that in secret for a lot of people because she's not all about advertising what she does. She cares about the betterment of this community and our world. That's one thing that I really respect and love about her. And that she makes me laugh my butt off.