Kristin Dawn Chenoweth; born Kristi Dawn Chenoweth, is an American actress and singer, with credits in musical theatre, film, and television.
Chenoweth was adopted when she was five days old by Junie Smith Chenoweth and Jerry Morris Chenoweth, both chemical engineers from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, and named Kristi Dawn Chenoweth. She has stated that she is of one quarter Cherokee ancestry.
At an early age, she performed gospel songs for local churches. A performing highlight of her childhood was a solo appearance at the Southern Baptist Convention national conference at the age of twelve. After graduating from Broken Arrow Senior High School, where she participated in school plays, Chenoweth attended Oklahoma City University, where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta (Beta Omicron) sorority.
She earned a bachelor's degree in musical theatre in 1990 and a master's degree in opera performance in 1992, studying under voice instructor and mentor, Florence Birdwell. While at OCU, Chenoweth competed in beauty pageants, winning the title of "Miss OCU" and was the second runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma pageant in 1991. In 1992, Chenoweth participated in a studio recording of The Most Happy Fella.
While she was in college and working towards her masters, Chenoweth performed at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, among other regional theatres, in roles like June in Gypsy, Liesl in The Sound of Music, Fran in Promises, Promises and Tuptim in The King and I.
As she completed her master's degree, Chenoweth participated in several vocal competitions and was named "most promising up-and-coming singer" in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, which came with a full scholarship to Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts. Two weeks before school started, however, she went to New York City to help a friend move. While there, she auditioned for the 1993 Paper Mill Playhouse production of the musical Animal Crackers and got the role of Arabella Rittenhouse. She turned down the scholarship and moved to New York to do the show and pursue a career in musical theatre.