For Emmy and Tony award winner Kristin Chenoweth, her church upbringing is the reason for her success.
"I auditioned for a solo in church and got it. I was about seven and I sang a song called, 'Jesus, I Heard You Had a Big House' and I remember people standing up at the end and me thinking, 'Oh, I think I'm going to like this.' That's how it all began,” she told Parade.com in an interview.
Chenoweth is known for her Broadway performances and her television roles. Most recently, she’s made appearances on the popular show “Glee.”
Not far from her Southern Baptist roots, the 42-year-old singer and actress will star in a new ABC show, “Good Christian Belles,” about a group of girls who grew up in church together and deal with various personalities within the church world.
“I love that it's in a world that hasn't been done on television, which is in the world of church," the actress said.
And she’s right. That type of show hasn’t been done before, and while Chenoweth is all too familiar with the background of the series, she said she’s never played this type of character before.
The show is centered on a girl who was a former mean girl who taunted Chenoweth’s character as a child. Her character was known as the ugly duckling, and as the girls grow up, the mean girl hasn’t changed from her wicked ways, Chenoweth told Parade.com.
“That promotes a lot of mayhem and craziness,” she said.
But the Oklahoman noted that this is a family show.
“I know a lot of people no matter what religion they are can relate to one of these characters."
While Chenoweth doesn’t hold back from talking about her faith in Hollywood, one of her missions is to help people understand true Christianity and urge people to stop making Christianity out to be so negative.
"I think it's important to remember that Christianity was based in love and tolerance and forgiveness and acceptance. I don't want Christianity to be a negative word anymore. I want people to understand that there is a group of Christians out there who want to be more open and understanding and tolerant and loving of all kinds of people, even the people that don't believe in God at all.”
“I guess that's one of my purposes in this life,” she continued, “is to make sure people know that Jesus would have taught the same thing and did teach the same thing. If he were alive today, where would he be hanging out? He wouldn't be hanging out at Neiman Marcus. He probably wouldn't even be at church. He would be downtown feeding the poor and helping the sick. That's what it's about."
Though Chenoweth is looking to give Christianity a better image, her upcoming show doesn’t seem like the appropriate venue.
The ABC dramedy drew controversy when it was first announced that it would air as a prime-time program. It was first introduced as “Good Christian B*tches,” based on the book of the same name by Kim Gatlin. But beyond the show name, conservative group the American Family Association objected to the show’s content – namely, its portrayal of Christian women as catty, botoxed gossipers.
“Disney-owned ABC has no reservations about creating hate speech against Christians, but you can be sure they would never consider a show called ‘Good Muslim B-tches’ or ‘Good Jewish B-tches,’” AFA said in a statement earlier.
Even with a new name, the show, AFA said, “will still mock people of faith.”
“Good Christian Belles” also co-stars Leslie Bibb and Annie Potts, and it won’t air until midseason 2012, according to the Dallas Observer.