'Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness: 'I feel honored that I get to be a squatter'

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Zap2it: What has the impact been on you of playing Penelope Garcia over nine seasons of "Criminal Minds"?

Kirsten Vangsness: When fortune comes upon you, it can really shut you down, or it can really crack you open and you can learn so much about yourself.

I feel honored that I get to be a squatter in this sort of fancy mansion with these fancy people for this period of time -- with all these dead bodies everywhere -- and I'm really appreciative. I've gotta say, this has been such a gift.

Zap2it: When you've tackled other work on film and stage, have you seen the effect of the popularity of "Criminal Minds" on that?

Kirsten Vangsness: Well, you would think so. I am a member of a nonprofit theater company called Theatre of NOTE that has a 40-seat house, and I did a play during our winter break. It's Los Angeles, and people don't go to nonprofit theaters; they go to the bigger theaters. However, I can say that where it's really helped is that I made a movie called "Kill Me, Deadly," and I actually raised the funds that paid for most of it.

Joe [Mantegna] and Shemar [Moore] are in it, it's like "Airplane!" meets "Young Frankenstein," and it's a love letter to Los Angeles. We hired many of the actors who were involved in it when it was a play, they made a living wage in a movie, and it's a union film that was made in Hollywood. There are so many great actors in this town, I'm happy that I could use some of them in this, and that it's almost out in the world.
Photo/Video credit: CBS