Kirsten Simone Vangsness (born July 7, 1972) is an American actress. She graduated from Cerritos High School in Cerritos, California in June 1990. She is currently appearing on the CBS drama series Criminal Minds as FBI Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, as well as the spin-off, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, which premiered on February 16, 2011.
Vangsness was born in Pasadena, CA to parents Errol Leroy Vangsness (born 5 Feb. 1938 in Milwaukee, WI) and wife Barbara Mary, née Marconi (born 1 Dec. 1942 in Philadelphia, PA). Her father is of Norwegian descent with roots in Gol and Sogn.
She got her first big break in the theater 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. She is also a writer, and her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
Her fiancée is film editor Melanie Goldstein, whose credits include the television series 24. They intend to marry in 2013.
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