Kate McKinnon - Actress, Comedian - Biography

Kate McKinnon Biography

Actress, Comedian (1984–)
Kate McKinnon is an Emmy Award-winning American actress best known as a cast member on the television comedy show 'Saturday Night Live' and a star of the all-female reboot of 'Ghostbusters.'


Kate McKinnon was born in Sea Cliff, New York, on January 6, 1984. She 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 (SNL) 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 she won her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on SNL.

Early Life

Kate McKinnon Berthold was born 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.


McKinnon, who is openly gay, got her big break in television as part of the cast of the Logo network's 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.

In April 2012, McKinnon joined the cast of the popular television 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 the show 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, and most notably, Hillary Clinton. During Season 41's premiere, Clinton herself appeared alongside McKinnon. 

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.

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, The Venture Brothers, 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 took on a much more prominent role when she was chosen to be part of an all-star, all-female ensemble cast in 2016's reboot of Ghostbusters


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.

2014 would prove to be even better. For her work on SNL, McKinnon earned an American Comedy Award, as well as her first set of Emmy nominations in two categories; another Emmy nomination would come in 2015.

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."


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