Kristin Chenoweth on surviving a freak accident on-set, breathing easier with asthma, and the power of the arts.
It’s not always easy for Kristin Chenoweth to squeeze in a workout these days, on a dizzying schedule that finds the triple-threat star juggling a return to TV’s Glee, a voiceover role in the film Rio 2 and an upcoming concert tour that will bring her Broadway chops to the Royal Albert Hall in London this July.
“Fortunately, I love walking, and when I’m in New York, I walk everywhere,” says Kristin, 45. “It’s different in Los Angeles— whenever people see me walking they always pull over and ask if I need a ride!”
Walking also happens to be a good exercise for people with ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼asthma, which Kristin was diagnosed with in 2007, and affects 25 million Americans. “The entire time I performed Wicked on Broadway, I thought I had bronchitis,” Kristin says. “It wasn’t until I was doing the TV show Pushing Daisies in Oklahoma—and coughing and wheezing—that my mom insisted I see a doctor.”
Today, Kristin is spreading the word on living well with asthma as a spokesperson for Teva Respiratory and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Emmy-winning actress shares how she’s still recovering from a near-fatal accident on the set of The Good Wife in 2012, her best tips for managing her health on the go and discovering new talent in unexpected places.
What have you learned about managing your asthma?
I don’t need an inhaler every day, but I always carry one with me just in case. I remember attempting to use my inhaler in the past and not understanding why it didn’t work, only to discover it was empty. It’s important to know that you can get relief from your rescue inhaler if you have an asthma attack. The Teva Respiratory/AAFA campaign encourages people with asthma to make sure their inhaler has a dose counter.
How do you stay healthy with a busy schedule?
I also have allergies, so I always have a humidifier and air purifier in my hotel room when I travel, and in my bedroom at home. I try to stay healthy because if I catch a cold, there’s a good chance that it will go into my chest. I like to inhale steam from the shower to clear my lungs, and I try to exercise regularly with dance classes or walking outdoors or on the treadmill.
Do you have any secrets for maintaining a healthy diet on set?
When I get really hungry, I tend to make poor food choices, so I don’t allow myself to get so busy that I forget to eat. I carry almonds and protein bars with me when I’m working so that I can snack between meals, and also Crystal Light on the Go packs that contain electrolytes. It’s easy to mix them with water to stay hydrated.
You suffered a brain injury while shooting The Good Wife in 2012. Was your recovery difficult?
Yes, I was filming a scene for the show when I was knocked to the ground by a piece of lighting equipment, following a gust of wind on the set. I hit the back of my head on a curb and was knocked out. It was such a freak accident, but it left me with a skull fracture, and a rib and hip issue. I still have neck pain as the result of the accident and disc problems. But I’m just so happy to be doing as well as I am since the outcome could have been so much worse.
Did this near-death experience change your approach to life?
After the accident, I was bedridden for several months and my parents flew in from Oklahoma to care for me. I struggled at first to form sentences and remember words. The entire experience taught me that life is short and can change so abruptly. I’ve learned to slow down, and to take time out of my schedule to relax and pray, and to just be grateful.
What prompted you to start a charity with your hometown theater in Oklahoma?
Last year, I established the Kristin Chenoweth Fund for Arts and Education with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Foundation in Oklahoma. I’m so excited to work closely with them. In March, I worked with young actors and actresses as they performed in front of a live audience, and we raised money to bring 200 fine arts students from Oklahoma to New York to share their talents at Carnegie Hall in April. I want to raise awareness that we have a lot of talent in my hometown, and help give kids opportunities to pursue their dreams of performing.