Who Is Kate McKinnon?

Actress and comedian Kate McKinnon graduated from Columbia University, where she studied theater. McKinnon appeared on The Big Gay Sketch Show for several years before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live as a featured player in 2012. She has also performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade and written several one-woman shows. In 2016, McKinnon starred in the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters and was honored for her SNL work with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Early Life

Kate McKinnon was born Kathryn McKinnon Berthold on January 6, 1984, in Sea Cliff, New York, and grew up on Long Island. McKinnon gravitated to music as a child, playing the piano, guitar and cello. A film and theater buff, she enjoyed dressing in costume and performing in dance recitals and plays. She also excelled academically. After graduating from high school, McKinnon studied theater at Columbia University in New York City.

Early Career: 'The Big Gay Sketch Show'

McKinnon, who is openly gay, got her big break in television as part of the cast of the Logo network's The Big Gay Sketch Show. The audition process involved several grueling rounds in front of producer Rosie O'Donnell, who winnowed the field from thousands to just 16. McKinnon joined the cast in 2006, where she remained for the show's full run. One of her more memorable characters on the program was Fitzwilliam, a British boy who wishes to be a girl.

'Saturday Night Live'

In April 2012, McKinnon joined the cast of the popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live as a featured player; she was one of several actresses hired to fill the void left by the departure of Kristen Wiig, a breakout star who left to pursue a movie career. In May 2013, McKinnon played Wiig's mother on an episode of SNL. Among her most popular impressions are Ellen DeGeneres, Ann Romney, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shakira, Jeff Sessions and most notably, Hillary Clinton. During Season 41's premiere, Clinton herself appeared alongside McKinnon.

PASADENA, CA - APRIL 22:  Kate McKinnon attends the 2013 NBCUniversal Summer Press Day held at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on April 22, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Getty Images)
Kate McKinnon
Photo: Paul A. Hebert/Getty Images

McKinnon is one of only a few gay players in SNL history, and is the first gay woman to be cast on the program since Danitra Vance in the 1980s.

Other Stage and TV Work

Since joining the cast of SNL, McKinnon has appeared in a number of other stage and screen productions. She has also worked as a voice actress, appearing in animated series such as Ugly Americans and The Venture Brothers and the big screen's The Angry Birds Movie and Finding Dory; regularly performed sketch comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City; and contributed to the 2010 web series Vag Magazine. Additionally, she has performed a number of one-woman shows, including Kate McKinnon on Ice, Disenchanted and Best Actress.


Among her more notable film projects, McKinnon has appeared in Ted 2 and Sisters. She was chosen for an all-star, all-female ensemble cast in 2016's reboot of Ghostbusters, and also appeared in the comedy Office Christmas Party later that year.

In 2018, McKinnon starred in The Spy Who Dumped Me, as the best friend who teams with Mila Kunis on a series of adventures through Europe. The following year, she had supporting roles in Yesterday, as a talent agent, and Bombshell, as a closeted lesbian producer at Fox News.


McKinnon's promise has been publicly recognized. In 2009, the comedic actress received a Logo NewNowNext Award for Best Rising Comic. The following year, she was nominated for the ECNY Emerging Comic Award.

For her work on SNL, in 2014, McKinnon earned an American Comedy Award, as well as her first set of Emmy nominations in two categories.

In 2016, McKinnon won her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. In her acceptance speech, McKinnon thanked SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels, the cast and writers, as well as two of the women she impersonates on the show, Ellen DeGeneres and Hillary Clinton. She also thanked her mother, sister and her late father, who passed away when she was 18: "He made me start watching SNL when I was 12," she said. "Thank you, and I miss you, pop."

McKinnon also won a Critics' Choice Television Award and was named USA Today's Entertainer of the Year in 2016. She picked up her second Primetime Emmy the following year.


  • Birth Year: 1984
  • Birth date: January 6, 1984
  • Birth State: New York
  • Birth City: Sea Cliff
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: Kate McKinnon is an Emmy Award-winning actress best known as a cast member on 'Saturday Night Live' and a star of the all-female reboot of 'Ghostbusters.'
  • Industries
    • Comedy
    • Theater and Dance
    • Television
  • Astrological Sign: Capricorn
  • Schools
    • Columbia University

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  • Article Title: Kate McKinnon Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/kate-mckinnon
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: January 7, 2020
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014