Mention the name Kristin Chenoweth to any music theatre fan and they are likely to go weak at the knees.
The Oklahoma-born actor and singer could well claim to be Broadway royalty as the original Glinda the Good Witch in the hit musical Wicked, for which she received a Tony award nomination, the stage equivalent of the Oscars.
Television fans will know her as April from Glee and a new generation of fans will have heard her as the voice of Abby, the mouse who overhears the Angel Gabriel telling Mary she is going to give birth to Jesus, in the 2017 Christmas film, The Star.
But there’s another side to Kristin, named by beliefnet.com as one of the 12 Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood.
Kristin wears her faith proudly, having grown up singing gospel songs at churches since she was a young girl.
“I’m an actress and a singer and I’m also a Christian. I just want to be like Jesus, forgiving and loving and non-judgmental,” she tells beliefnet.com
Adopted into a strong Christian family as a baby, faith has always been part of her life, and as she was growing up she spent some time puzzling over whether she should be a missionary or a musician.
Following her father’s advice to get a university degree, Kristin studied a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre and then a master’s degree in opera performance at Oklahoma City University.
Kristin was granted a full scholarship to Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, following her success in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.
But a different path lay in store for this talented songbird.
Two weeks before starting at the academy, she accompanied a friend to a New York City audition for the musical Animal Crackers, just for fun. But, when Kristin was offered the role of Arabella Rittenhouse it was a turning point and she turned down the opera scholarship and moved to New York to follow her heart in musical theatre.
Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, with leading roles in many major musicals and swag of awards and nominations.
She has also developed a significant solo recording career, and her second album, As I Am, was a Christian music collection, which received great acclaim from Christian website crosswalk.com.
But life hasn’t been all roses for Kristin.
She suffers from Meniere’s disease, which means she is susceptible to bouts of vertigo. Kristin says there is no known cure, and her only means of dealing with it are to cut out sodium in her diet, to sleep on an incline, and to be careful about travelling too much—a near impossibility for a performer.
Her other way of coping when vertigo hits is prayer.
“I get all quiet and listen for God’s presence. I know you’re here with me when I’m like this, God. You know what I need, he always does,” Kristin tells guideposts.org.
Kristin also grew up with the idea of serving others, her mother Junie telling a teenage Kristin that she should get involved with Meals on Wheels as a way of giving back for her own good fortune. Initially reluctant, Kristin grew to love her voluntary work.
In an unstable industry like performing arts, Kristin says her faith is what sustains her.
“I have my favourite verse to get me through. I never stop saying that one from Philippians, ‘I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me’,” she explains.
And her advice for creating a successful life?
“You never know what’s going to be in store. But when I put my trust in God, wonderful things happen.”