Although Kirsten Vangsness is currently starring in Criminal Minds as Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, she is well-known in the Los Angeles theater community and as a performance artist. Kirsten is an active member of Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. Her hard work has earned her the 15 Minutes of Fem Best Actress Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Emerging Comic Actress, and the Golden Betty Award. Her theatre credits include original plays that include A Mulholland Christmas Carol, Book of Liz, Fan Maroo, Perfuct, and Steaming City. Kirsten also starred as Helen in the West Coast premiere of Neil LaBute's Fat Pig at the Geffen Playhouse in 2007. Her short plays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and in theatres throughout Los Angeles. She graduated from Cerritos High School in Cerritos, California, in June 1990.