Kristin Chenoweth seems to pop up everywhere these days.
On March 24, the PBS series “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcast her television special “The Dames of Broadway — All of ’Em!!!” That was followed by back-to-back appearances on NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show,” Bravo’s “Kathy” and CBS’s “The Talk.”
Finally, the independent film “Family Weekend” opened in theaters March 29 (and was released on DVD April 23). Not a bad week for a performer who headed to New York 27 years ago with the modest dream of getting cast in the chorus of a Broadway show.
During what has become an endlessly fascinating and storied career, Chenoweth has enjoyed considerable critical acclaim, including a Tony Award for her role in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and an Emmy Award for her work on the television drama “Pushing Daisies.”
To reach the pinnacle of success in two areas of the entertainment industry is a rare accomplishment indeed.
“I’m keeping my head above water and trying to stay relevant,” Chenoweth said recently by phone from New York. “But I’m also at a point in my life where I can be a little bit more choosy. I want to do things that are passion projects for me, things that are fun and inspiring. I’ve worked so hard, and I’m glad. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I could use a vacation.”
That may be wishful thinking for a performer who’s become one of the most popular entertainers working today.
She recently performed at the Long Center in Austin, Texas, and has a summer engagement booked at the Hollywood Bowl.
A concert tour of Australia is also in the works.
Fame and success often come with a steep price tag and Chenoweth is the first to admit that she has had to make some sacrifices along the way.
Now 44, she’s put some aspects of her personal life on hold to focus on sustaining her career.
“I was at the doctor the other day, and I told her I thought I’d be married with children by now,” Chenoweth said. “I’m from Oklahoma. That’s what we do. She said, ‘Kristin, that’s not what you do. You do something different.’ She reminded me that all these sacrifices have definitely come at a cost but I’m not sorry about the choices I’ve made. I’m very content and I feel very lucky and blessed.”
During the filming of an episode of “The Good Wife” in July 2012, Chenoweth was struck in the head by a piece of lighting equipment that was dislodged due to an unexpected gust of wind. The actress suffered a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises.
“I didn’t have speech loss, but I had trouble getting my thoughts out in the way I wanted them to be,” Chenoweth said. “My nose was also cracked in two places. It wasn’t a pretty sight. That’s why I went underground for a while. I’m still having some issues but I’m doing so much better.”
Chenoweth said that while she’s adjusted to having a career that keeps her in the public spotlight, building free time into her busy schedule remains an ongoing challenge.
It’s a delicate balance that requires considerable planning.
“I get so little time to myself any more,” Chenoweth said. “And I sometimes feel like I live on planes because I travel so much. Of course that’s by choice. But when I do have time, I take it and I enjoy it. I live life.”
The Broken Arrow native says that luck, talent and perseverance have all contributed to her success in a highly competitive business. And while such a career is enormously demanding, one of the most important lessons she’s learned is applicable for anyone, regardless of their career.
“When I was a little kid, my dad always told me not to sweat the small stuff,” Chenoweth said. “There are so many more important things in life than reading or hearing a negative story about yourself. Even something falling on your head. Life’s too short so I cherish every minute of it.”
With her parents and other relatives still living in Oklahoma, Chenoweth returns to visit whenever her schedule allows.
And she’s particularly pleased by the continued revitalization of downtown and the many new projects that are in the works.
“I think Oklahoma City will continue to grow over the next 20 years,” Chenoweth remarked. “Oklahoma City is full of kind, good people, and there are new restaurants and shopping areas springing up every day. Also, more and more films are shooting in the area.
“William H. Macy will be filming there shortly. There are also wonderful colleges, including my alma mater, Oklahoma City University. They’re pumping out stars every day. The future is ours … and man is it bright!”