Kathryn McKinnon Berthold (born January 6, 1984), known professionally as Kate McKinnon, is an American actress and comedienne, who is best known as a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live and The Big Gay Sketch Show, and for playing the role of Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.
McKinnon is known for her character work and celebrity impressions of pop singer Justin Bieber, comedian television host Ellen DeGeneres, and political figures Hillary Clinton, Kellyanne Conway, Elizabeth Warren, Betsy DeVos, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Robert Mueller, and Jeff Sessions. She has been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards; one for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and four for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2016 and 2017.
Kathryn McKinnon Berthold was born and raised in the Long Island town of Sea Cliff, New York. She is the daughter of Laura Campbell, a parent educator, and Michael Thomas Berthold, an architect. She has a younger sister, Emily. Her father died when she was 18 years old.
As a child, McKinnon played several instruments. She started playing the piano when she was 5 years old, the cello when she was 12, and taught herself how to play the guitar when she was 15. She graduated from North Shore High School in 2002, and from Columbia University in 2006 with a theater major, where she co-founded a comedy group, Tea Party, which focused on musical improv comedy. At Columbia, she starred in three Varsity shows: V109 “Dial D for Deadline”, V110 “Off-Broadway” and V111 “The Sound of Muses”. She was also a member of Prangstgrüp, a student comedy group who set up and recorded elaborate college pranks.
In 2007, McKinnon joined the original cast of Logo TV’s The Big Gay Sketch Show, where she was a cast member for all three seasons. Since 2008, she has performed live sketch comedy regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. She has also worked as a voice-over actress, and has voiced characters for series such as The Venture Bros., Robotomy, and Ugly Americans. In 2009, McKinnon won a Logo NewNowNext Award for Best Rising Comic. She was nominated for an ECNY Emerging Comic Award in 2010. In 2014, she appeared in the Kennedy Center Honors as part of a tribute to Lily Tomlin. In 2016, she starred in the reboot Ghostbusters, alongside Melissa McCarthy, and fellow SNL cast members Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones. In 2017, McKinnon is attached to star in Amblin Entertainment’s Lunch Witch, an adaptation of a young adult graphic novel by Deb Lucke. She has been set to play the title role of Grunhilda, an out-of-work witch who takes a job in a school cafeteria to make ends meet. McKinnon voices the character of Ms. Frizzle in the reboot of the Magic School Bus children’s series.
McKinnon debuted as a featured player on Saturday Night Live on April 7, 2012. She was promoted to repertory status in season 39 in 2013. Following the departure of Vanessa Bayer, McKinnon is now the longest serving female cast member.
In 2013, McKinnon was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress, Comedy. McKinnon won the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Supporting Actress, TV for her work on SNL. In 2014, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, as well as for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics along with four of her colleagues for the song “(Do It On My) Twin Bed”. She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the second time in 2015. She eventually won the very next year, becoming the first actor from SNL to win the award since 1993.
McKinnon began appearing as Hillary Clinton on the series leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The real Clinton appeared alongside her in a sketch during the show’s season 41 premiere. McKinnon has said that her impression of Hillary Clinton comes from a place of deep admiration, and that “[she] unequivocally want her to win” the 2016 presidential election. On November 12, 2016, which was the first show after Clinton’s loss in the election, she reprised the role to open the show with a solo performance of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, whose death was announced two days before her performance. After the election, McKinnon began to impersonate Kellyanne Conway alongside Alec Baldwin as Trump. On February 11, she debuted her impression of Elizabeth Warren during Weekend Update and Jeff Sessions in the cold open.
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