Born Name: Kirsten Simone Vangsness
Date of Birth: July 7, 1972
Place of Birth: Pasadena, California, United States
Occupation: Actress, writer
Height: 1.7 m
Education: Cypress College, California State University Fullerton, Cerritos High School
Parents: Errol Leroy Vangsness, Barbara Mary Vangsness
Kirsten Simone Vangsness (born July 7, 1972) is an American actress and writer. She is best known for her portrayal of FBI Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia on the CBS drama series Criminal Minds. She portrayed the same character on the spin-off series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.
Vangsness was born in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, daughter of Errol Leroy Vangsness, of Norwegian descent, and wife Barbara Mary (née Marconi), of Italian descent. She was raised in Porterville, San Joaquin Valley, Tulare County, California, and later moved to Cerritos, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County. She graduated from Cerritos High School in June 1990 and attended Cypress College in Cypress, Northern Orange County, California. She later graduated from California State University, Fullerton, in Fullerton, Orange County, in June 1995.
Vangsness got involved in acting as a child to help overcome shyness and got her first big break in the theatre, where she won several awards, including the 15 Minutes of Female Best Actress Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Emerging Comic Actress, and the Golden Betty Award.
Vangsness' work has been published in the Los Angeles Times. Since 2014, Vangsness has co-written three episodes of Criminal Minds. In 2014 she co-wrote "Nelson's Sparrow" with executive producer, Erica Messer, in 2015 she co-wrote "A Beautiful Disaster" once again with Messer and in 2016 she co-wrote "Spencer" with Messer.
Vangsness describes herself "as Queer as a purple unicorn singing Madonna". She was in seven-year relationship with editor Melanie Goldstein until 2013, to whom she was engaged. In November 2015, it was reported that Vangsness was engaged to actor and writer Keith Hanson.
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