Kirsten Vangsness

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Kirsten Vangsness
Kirsten Vangsness.jpg
Born Kirsten Simone Vangsness
(1972-07-07) July 7, 1972 (age 46)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, writer
Years active 1998–present
Partner(s) Keith Hanson (2015-present; engaged)

Kirsten Simone Vangsness (born July 7, 1972)[1] is an American actress and writer. She currently stars as 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.[2]

Early life[edit]

Vangsness was born in Pasadena, California, the daughter of Errol Leroy Vangsness and Barbara Mary (née Marconi). Her paternal great-grandparents were Norwegian,[3] with ancestry from Bergen, Gol, and Oslo.[4] She was raised in Porterville, California, and later moved to Cerritos, California. She graduated from Cerritos High School in June 1990 and attended Cypress College.[5] She later graduated from California State University, Fullerton in June 1995.[citation needed]



Vangsness got into acting as a child to help overcome shyness[6] 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.[citation needed]


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,[7] in 2015 she co-wrote "A Beautiful Disaster" once again with Messer[8] and in 2016 she co-wrote "Spencer" with Messer.

Personal life[edit]

Vangsness says that she is "as queer as a purple unicorn singing Madonna".[9] She began dating film and television editor Melanie Goldstein in 2006.[10][11][12] They were engaged, but separated in 2013.[citation needed]

In November 2015, it was reported that she was engaged to her boyfriend, actor and writer Keith Hanson.[13]



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Sometimes Santa's Gotta Get Whacked Tooth Fairy Short film
2006 A-List Blue
2008 Tranny McGuyver TV News Reporter Short film
2009 Scream of the Bikini Interior Decorator
2010 In My Sleep Madge
2011 Sarina's Song Party Guest Short film
2011 The Chicago 8 Sketch Artist
2012 Remember to Breathe Vocals for Young Alice Short film
2015 Kill Me, Deadly Mona Livingston
2016 Diane & Devine Meet the Apocalypse Fawn
2017 Axis Heather (voice)
2017 Dave Made a Maze Jane


Year Title Role Notes
2004 Phil of the Future Veronica Episode: "Age Before Beauty"
LAX Ticket Agent / Stephanie 3 episodes
2005–present Criminal Minds Penelope Garcia Main Cast; 292 episodes
2010 Vampire Mob Laura Anderson
2010–2012 Pretty the Series Meredith Champagne 14 episodes
2011 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Penelope Garcia Main Cast; 13 episodes
Second City This Week Herself 1 episode
2011–2013 Good Job, Thanks! Therapist 2 episodes
2013 Shelf Life Freaky Squeaky 6 episodes, webseries
2016-2017 Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Penelope Garcia Special Guest; 2 episodes


  1. ^ Vangsness, Kirsten (2007-07-24). "Kirstens Blog". CBS. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  2. ^ "Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness Joins Spin-Off as a Series Regular". 
  3. ^ Family tree by Vangsness' father
  4. ^ "Kirsten Simone Vangsness ancestry profile". 
  5. ^ Cypress College Public Information Office (2012-05-04). "Cypress College @Cypress Newsletter" (PDF). 
  6. ^ "The nerd who got heard". Matt Pomroy. 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2017-06-07. 
  7. ^ "CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1013. Nelson's Sparrow - Press Release". Criminal Minds Round Table. 
  8. ^ "CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - 1118. A Beautiful Disaster - Press Release". Criminal Minds Round Table. 
  9. ^ Anderson-Minshall, Diane (November 2011). "The Purple Unicorn". The Advocate: 42. 
  10. ^ Melanie Goldstein on IMDb
  11. ^ "Untitled". Criminal Minds Fanatic. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  12. ^ Waldon, Dave (2008-09-23). "Kirsten Vangsness Thrives on "Criminal Minds"". Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  13. ^ Nicole Sands (November 23, 2015). "Criminal Minds Star Kirsten Vangsness Is Engaged: 'He's the Perfect Partner'". People. 

External links[edit]