KIRSTEN VANGSNESS - MORE THAN JUST YOUR AVERAGE CRIMINAL MIND
You probably know her as the bespectacled tech-sexy Penelope Garcia on the hit CBS show Criminal Minds. She's been a cast member from Season 1, and she's been a fan favorite now going on 13 seasons. She has quite a varied career, though. She graduated from California State University Fullerton Theatre and Dance Department. She worked her way up the old fashioned way, as a waitress, a substitute teacher, a murder mystery dinner theater actress. I happen to know that she's Duran Duran's #1 fan (respect.) Her first paid acting job was a Diet Dr. Pepper commercial. She started off in theater and received numerous accolades along the way including the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Natalie Schafer Award for best emerging comic actress, the 15 Minutes of Fem Best Actress Award (my favorite title of any award anywhere), and a Garland Award for best actress for the West Coast premiere of Neil LaBute's Fat Pig at the Geffen Playhouse. If you're in LA, you definitely want to drop by Theatre of Note in Hollywood. She's a board member, and frequently writes, appears in, and supports shows and performance art pieces here. Her most recent one woman show "Mess" sold out every show at the Theatre of NOTE. You've seen her in the webseries "Pretty" and "Vampire Mob". She's a writer too.. she's been published in the Los Angeles Times and has also written 3 episodes of Criminal Minds. She's appeared in a number of films including A-List (2006), Scream of the Bikini (2009), In My Sleep (2010), and The Chicago 8 (2011).
You're getting the drift that she's a busy girl. But in the midst of all this, she started her own distillery Blinking Owl in Santa Ana, California. It is the first and only distillery in Santa Ana, named for a renowned mid-century bar The Blinking Owl with a sign that blinked!
They make Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, and Aquavit. And there is an attached bar with the most creative cocktails this side of the Mississippi and cool Blinking Owl swag to boot. If you visit, I recommend the Pink Moon cocktail ... and if you're out of the area, order a bottle of the Blinking Owl Vodka or Aquavit... it's killer at Blinking Owl Distillery.
Just when you were thinking you couldn't like her any more, there's more to love. She just finished negotiations on her contract for Criminal Minds, and I heard she and her female co-star A.J. Cook stood their ground together for equal pay to what their male co-stars were getting. They won.