Emmy and Tony Award-winning television and stage star Kristin Chenoweth delighted students with frank analysis of her life and career at a talk Friday afternoon in Farkas Hall.
Best known for her roles as Glinda in the Broadway musical “Wicked” and, as Chenoweth described the role, “drunken has-been” April Rhodes on TV’s “Glee,” the actor fielded questions from students by offering funny anecdotes and candid advice. She was also surprised with a personal a cappella serenade from The Harvard Din & Tonics.
The talk, part of the “Learning from Performers” series, was sponsored by the Office for the Arts, the Harvard Foundation, and Faculty of Arts And Sciences Diversity Relations office.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” Chenoweth said. “This is a dream come true.”
Chenoweth reminisced with the audience about one of her childhood disappointments—not getting the coveted role of a mouse in a ballet recital.
“I didn’t fit in the mouse costume—I fit in the rabbit costume. The rabbit didn’t dance. I was devastated when I got that part,” Chenoweth said.
At one point in the show, a vine that some of the dancers had been carrying dropped onto the stage floor. Chenoweth sprung into action to make sure no one would trip.
“I thought, ‘What would a bunny do?’ So I hopped out, put it in my mouth, and hopped back. The place went ballistic.”
Chenoweth said the experience was a valuable lesson in looking past disappointment. “What I had originally thought I’d be doing didn’t work out that way. [What actually happened] was a lot better.”
Chenoweth shared with the audience some of the challenges she has faced during her adult career as well. Her 4’11’’ frame has rarely posed a big issue; she said: She just never wears flats. Other obstacles, such as overcoming the negative attitude toward performing arts in her Oklahoma high school, were harder for her to deal with.
“Saying being in the glee club was not cool is an understatement,” Chenoweth said.
Audience members enthusiastically applauded Chenoweth when she mentioned her successes.
Trevor N. Coyle ’14 said, “It was amazing to see her answer questions with such a beautiful sense of warmth. The fact that she talked openly about her struggles and imperfections was so inspirational. I felt connected to her.”
Chenoweth left the audience with words of wisdom about facing rejection in the entertainment industry.
“I call my friends up and dissect it to death. And then I move on,” Chenoweth said, “Rejection is a part of my business and a part of life. Let yourself go get a Frosty. Spend the day being pissed and then move the fuck on.”
—Staff writer Aaron H. Aceves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.