Idina Kim Menzel (pronounced /ɪˈdiːnə mɛnˈzɛl/; née Mentzel; born May 30, 1971) is an American actress, singer and songwriter. She is widely known for originating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked. Idina was born on Long Island, New York, to a Jewish family. Her mother, Helene, is a therapist, and her father, Stuart Mentzel, worked as a pajama salesman. She was raised in Syosset, New York, with her younger sister Cara, and later changed the spelling of her last name (Mentzel) because of constant mispronunciation.