Who is Kirsten Vangsness?
Kirsten Vangsness is an American actress and writer, probably best known for her role as FBI Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia in the TV series “Criminal Minds” (2005-present), and as Meredith Champagne in the TV series “Pretty the Series” (2010-2012), among many other roles she has had in her career.
What is Kirsten Vangsness doing today?
Kirsten can still be seen in “Criminal Minds”, appearing in over 330 episodes of the popular TV crime drama. As of 2023, she has no new projects she’s working on.
Kirsten Vangsness Wiki: Age, Childhood, and Education
Kirsten Simone Vangsness was born on 7 July 1972, in Pasadena, California, USA, to parents Errol Leroy Vangsness, a Norwegian businessman, and Barbara Mary Vangsness, of Italian ancestry, who is a housewife.
Kirsten grew up in Porterville, California, but moved to Cerritos at some point in her childhood, where she attended Cerritos High School, and after which she studied theater arts at Cypress College in Cypress, California. She then transferred to California State University, Fullerton, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater.
Vangsness has mentioned in interviews that she started acting as a way to overcome her shyness – as a child, she was extremely introverted, and found it difficult to communicate with others. However, when on the stage, she felt empowered, and thought of it as a way to express herself.
Career Beginnings and Success in Theater
Before launching her professional acting career, she worked as a substitute teacher, child counselor, restaurant hostess, personal assistant, and grant writer. She has also worked as a murder mystery dinner theater actress, which involved performing in interactive theatrical productions when the audience tries to solve a fictional murder case. Her first paid acting role was a Diet Dr. Pepper commercial, which marked the beginning of her professional acting career.
Since 1999, Kirsten’s been a member of the Theatre of NOTE, a non-profit theater company located in Los Angeles, California, and has performed in numerous productions there. NOTE is known for its original works and experimental theater, and Vangsness has been involved in many of the company’s cutting-edge productions.
Vangsness has received critical acclaim for her stage work and has been recognized with several awards for her performances. She was awarded the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Natalie Schafer Award for Best Emerging Comic Actress, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an actress in a comic role, for her performance in the play “Crazyface” at Theatre of NOTE.
She also won the 15 Minutes of Fem Best Actress Award, which honors outstanding work by female performers in the Los Angeles theater community, for her performance in the play “Potential Space” (2012) at Theatre of NOTE. Additionally, she won a Garland Award for Best Actress for her role in the West Coast premiere of Neil LaBute’s “Fat Pig” (2007) at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
To speak further of her accomplishments in theater, Kirsten has worked on several other plays, including:
- “A Mulholland Christmas Carol” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
- “The Importance of Being Earnest” at the Colony Theatre
- “The Twentieth-Century Way” at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center
- “The Children” at the Theatre Boston Court
- “Cleo, Theo & Wu” at Theatre of NOTE, which she also wrote
- “The Medievalists” at Brava Theatre Center
Kirsten made her on-screen debut in an episode of the Disney Channel series “Phil of the Future” in 2004. The same year, she appeared in three episodes of the TV series “LAX”.
‘Criminal Minds’ Success
Kirsten is certainly best known for her role as Penelope Garcia in the hit crime-drama series “Criminal Minds. The series premiered on CBS in 2005 and ran for 15 seasons until 2020, and was then renewed in 2022. Vangsness’s involvement with the show began when she was originally cast as a guest star in the second episode of the first season, playing the character of Garcia, an intelligent and quirky technical analyst for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). The producers of the show were impressed with her performance, and asked her to reprise the role in future episodes.
Over the course of the show’s run, Penelope Garcia became a fan-favorite character, known for her distinctive style, quick wit, and fierce loyalty to her colleagues. She has also been a key member of the team, using her technological expertise to help track down and apprehend some of the most dangerous criminals in the world.
One of the major plots of Penelope Garcia’s character was her backstory, which was slowly revealed over the course of the series – she had a traumatic childhood, and then suffered abuse at the hands of a former boyfriend. This backstory gave her character depth and complexity, and allowed viewers to connect with her on a deeper level.
Penelope Garcia herself, @Vangsness, from #CriminalMinds: Evolution is taking over our Instagram today for #WomensHistoryMonth! Follow along with her on stories, and catch up with all episodes of @criminalminds on @paramountplus pic.twitter.com/7E6mge2lpC
— CBS Studios (@CBSTVStudios) March 29, 2023
As the show gained popularity, so did Kirsten Vangsness and her character, and Penelope became an iconic part of the “Criminal Minds” universe. She was known for her close relationships with her colleagues, particularly Derek Morgan (played by Shemar Moore) and Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), with whom she shared a strong bond.
Throughout the show’s 17 seasons, there have been a number of changes to the cast and storylines, but Kirsten Vangsness remained a constant presence, appearing in all but a handful of episodes, while she has also returned for the show’s renewal, joined by a talented cast of co-stars, including Joe Mantegna, A.J. Cook, Paget Brewster and Thomas Gibson.
In addition, Kirsten Vangsness appeared as Penelope Garcia in the spin-off series “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” in 2011. The series followed a different team of FBI agents within the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and Vangsness’s character was brought in to provide continuity with the original show.
As the main cast member, Vangsness appeared in 13 episodes of “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”. Her character was a technical analyst for the team, much like she was in the original series. While the show only lasted for one season, it gave fans of the “Criminal Minds” franchise a chance to see more of Penelope Garcia and to learn more about her character.
In 2016 and 2017, Kirsten Vangsness made two guest appearances in “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”, reprising her role as Penelope Garcia from the original “Criminal Minds” series, her character assisting the International Response Team with their investigations, using her computer skills and vast knowledge to help solve complex cases.
From 2010 to 2012, Kirsten Vangsness appeared in the web series “Pretty the Series”, playing the role of Meredith Champagne, a successful businesswoman struggling with her own demons. The series followed the lives of a group of women in their thirties who were navigating the ups and downs of life and relationships, co-starring Stacy McQueen, Amy Kersten and Johanna Watts.
In 2015, Kirsten appeared in the film “Kill Me, Deadly”, playing the role of Mona Livingston. The film was a comedic homage to the film noir genre, and Vangsness’s performance was one of the highlights of the movie, playing a sultry lounge singer who gets caught up in a web of intrigue and murder.
To speak further of her accomplishments, in 2017, Kirsten appeared in the independent film “Dave Made a Maze”, playing the role of Jane. The film was a surreal and imaginative comedy that centered around a man who builds a fantastical maze in his living room, only to become trapped inside it, co-starring Nick Thune and Meera Rohit Kumbhani.
According to sources, Kirsten Vangsness’s net worth is estimated at $3 million, as of early 2023.
Personal Life, Dating, Married, Husband, Children
Vangsness has been open about her sexuality and has described herself as queer, but she has also said that she doesn’t feel the need to have a specific label or identity for her sexual orientation.
From 2006 to 2013, she dated editor Melanie Goldstein, and the two were even engaged from 2011 until 2013 before breaking-up.
In 2015 she shared the news of her engagement to actor/writer Keith Hansen. The two have been engaged since, but haven’t married.
Despite being engaged to both woman and man, she says she doesn’t identify as bisexual.
Vangsness is an active animal rights supporter and has been involved with various animal welfare organizations, including the Amanda Foundation and the Lange Foundation. She has also been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and mental health awareness. Vangsness has worked with organizations such as GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth.
Kirsten Vangsness Weight Loss
Kirsten has been open about her struggles with weight and body image. However, in 2022 she decided to make a change, and began working with a nutritionist and personal trainer to lose weight in a healthy way. So far she’s dropped 50 extra pounds, about 23kgs, and has continued with her routine.
She’s been a vegetarian for over 20 years, and this has helped her a lot in leading a healthy lifestyle and having a healthy diet.
Appearance and Body Measurements
Kirsten Vangsness has blonde hair and blue eyes. She stands at a height of 5ft 7ins (1.7m), while she weighs approximately 170lbs (76kgs), with vital statistics of 41-35-40, and bra size 36E.