Elizabeth Claire Kemper
May 2, 1980
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Education||Princeton University (BA)|
Worcester College, Oxford
Elizabeth Claire Kemper (born May 2, 1980), is an American actress and comedian. She has been nominated for a Critics' Choice Movie Award, two Critics' Choice Television Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, three Satellite Awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards.
She is best known for her roles of Erin Hannon in the sitcom The Office (2009–2013); and Kimmy Schmidt in the sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015–2019), which earned her two consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She has also appeared in films, notably Bridesmaids (2011), 21 Jump Street (2012), Sex Tape (2014), and most recently in Home Sweet Home Alone (2021). In 2018, she released her debut book, My Squirrel Days.
Kemper was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the second of four children of Dorothy Ann "Dotty" (née Jannarone) and David Woods Kemper, a son of one of the wealthiest families in Missouri. Her father is the executive chairman of Commerce Bancshares, a bank holding company founded by the Kemper family. She is the granddaughter of Mildred Lane Kemper, namesake of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis and the great-great-granddaughter of banker William Thornton Kemper Sr.
She is the elder sister of television writer Carrie Kemper. Kemper is of Italian (from her maternal grandfather), English, French, and German ancestry. She was raised and remains a practicing Roman Catholic.
In 1999, at age 19, she was presented as a debutante at the Veiled Prophet Ball, and was named the Veiled Prophet's Queen of Love and Beauty. Her participation sparked controversy in 2021 due to the Ball's background, which was described as "racist and elitist". The backlash prompted Kemper to release a statement denouncing white supremacy and apologizing for participating in the event, saying that although she had been unaware of the event's "unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past", she had been old enough to educate herself.
Kemper's family moved to St. Louis when she was five. She attended Conway Elementary School in the affluent suburb of Ladue and high school at John Burroughs School, where she developed an interest in theater and improvisational comedy. One of her teachers was actor Jon Hamm, with whom she appeared in a school play.
Kemper graduated from Princeton University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. At Princeton, she was a member of the improv comedy troupe Quipfire, which was known for its elaborate pranks. She was also a member of the Ivy Club. As part of her undergraduate degree, she completed an 82-page senior thesis, "Isn't It Ironic?", under the supervision of Susan Wolfson, with contribution from Ulrich C. Knoepflmacher.
As a sophomore, she played on Princeton's 1998 national championship field hockey team, maintaining she sat on the bench "roughly 97 percent" of the time, before moving on the following year to focus on theatre. She attended Worcester College, Oxford, for a year, where she studied towards a master's degree in English literature.
Early comedic career
I'm the most comfortable when I'm playing a naturalistic character. I auditioned for Saturday Night Live, and when I was doing the biggest characters, I felt the least comfortable. I'm just more comfortable when it's some version of myself.
Kemper continued her interest in improvisational comedy at Princeton. She participated in Quipfire!, Princeton's oldest improv comedy group, and the Princeton Triangle Club, a touring musical comedy theater troupe. She also appeared in a radio spot for Dunkin' Donuts.
Kemper earned her Screen Actors Guild card doing commercial advertising of a one-week sale of tents at Kmart. It featured her camping with an onscreen husband, and a shot where a tarantula crawled across her face. She regularly appeared in comedy sketches on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in the late 2000s, and made guest appearances on Important Things with Demetri Martin, and E! Television's The Gastineau Girls, which has been described as her "breakout role". Though the series was reality TV, her role was scripted. She has appeared on Fuse TV's The P.A. In October 2008, she appeared on The Colbert Report in a PSA for Teen Voter Abstinence. She has written several sketch comedy shows, many with her comedy partner Scott Eckert, a fellow Princeton grad. She is a contributing writer for the national satirical newspaper The Onion, and for McSweeney's. She is also a contributor to HuffPost.
Upon moving to New York City, Kemper participated in the People's Improv Theatre and the city troupe of Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational comedy and sketch comedy theater. She has appeared in several shows for the Brigade, including Death and/or Despair, Listen Kid, Gang Bang and The Improvised Mystery. At the UCB, she performed with the house improv teams Mailer Daemon and fwand. At the People's Improv Theatre she performs with the house improv team Big Black Car. In August 2008, she auditioned for a spot on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, but was not cast. In July 2009, Kemper was named one of Variety magazine's "10 Comics To Watch".
Being on set with them is like being in a dream, except the dream is real and I can reach out and touch them. Except I am trying not to touch them too much, because I was raised right.
Ellie Kemper on The Office
In 2007, she appeared in How to Kick People, a performance combining comedy and literary performances. In March 2008, she wrote and performed in the one-woman show "Dumb Girls" through the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. She also performed in the one-woman show "Feeling Sad/Mad with Ellie Kemper" and has appeared in comedy sketches on Funny or Die, the comedy website started by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions.
Kemper gained Internet interest in August 2007 for her part in "Blowjob Girl", a humor video on the sketch comedy site Derrick Comedy. Kemper said of the video in an April 2010 interview with The A.V. Club: "I really don't like that video, and I wish that I hadn't done it, even though I know that it's a joke. I hate that it got sort of big, because I don't think that it's that funny and I don't want that to be the epitome of my work. It's just one video in a sea of many, but it has made me conscious of not wanting to do a video like that again." Kemper has also contributed an article to CollegeHumor entitled "Regarding Our Decision Never to See Me Again". She also had a minor role in the 2009 film Mystery Team. Kemper starred in a fake iPhone commercial on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in January 2007, six months before the first iPhone was released. Kemper appeared in the Sofia Coppola comedy-drama Somewhere in 2010. She appeared in Bridesmaids in 2011. On April 3, 2013, it was announced that Kemper would be voicing a character in an episode of the animated sitcom American Dad!
Kemper auditioned for a role in Parks and Recreation, an NBC comedy series started in 2009 by Michael Schur and Greg Daniels, creator of the series The Office. She was not cast in the role, but received a call back to audition for a supporting role in The Office as Erin Hannon, a secretary filling in for the regular secretary Pam Beesly when she briefly left the job at the end of the fifth season. Kemper was cast in the role, and started appearing in the show in April 2009. The character was originally written to be more sarcastic and dry, but the writers changed her to be more perky and optimistic to more closely resemble Kemper herself. Kemper described the character as "an exaggerated version of myself". Kemper described herself as a "huge fan" of the show and was thrilled to be on it. Although the character was originally intended for four episodes, the producers were impressed with Kemper and signed her as a regular in the sixth season. Jennifer Celotta, a screenwriter with the series, described Kemper as a "fun addition" to the show.
Kemper received positive reviews for her role in The Office. Alan Sepinwall, television columnist with The Star-Ledger, praised the "infectious joy and sweetness" she brought to the show. Joshua Ostroff of Eye Weekly described Erin as one of the best new television characters of the 2008–2009 season and said, "Erin's high-grade adorability, up-for-anything attitude and sheer niceness is unlike anyone else in the office, adding a welcome new wrinkle for next season." Andy Shaw of TV Fodder said she "adds some freshness to the cast" and Josh McAuliffe of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said he liked Erin's "cheerful, appealingly goofy personality". Many critics have singled her out as a highlight of the show's eighth season following Steve Carell's departure. In October 2009, Kemper appeared in Subtle Sexuality, a set of three The Office webisodes about efforts by Erin and Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) to start a girl group.
Following The Office, she starred in the Netflix original comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as the fish-out-of-water title character. She plays a former abductee and forced cult member who wants to shed the victim pity of her small hometown and moves to New York. Her performance on the show has been widely acclaimed, and she received multiple nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
In summer 2015, Kemper served as a temporary co-host of Today alongside Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Tamron Hall, and Willie Geist.
In 2019, she appeared as a guest judge on season 14 of America's Got Talent.
In 2018, Kemper recorded for the audiobook A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. She also recorded the audiobook for 2019's The Legends of Greemulax, a novel attributed to her character Kimmy Schmidt.
In 2018, she also published her first book, My Squirrel Days.
In 2012, Kemper became engaged to comedy writer Michael Koman. They married on July 7, 2012. They have two sons, born in August 2016 and September 2019. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Kemper said that her Jewish husband had agreed to raise their children Roman Catholic.
|Cayman Went||Girl in Bar|
|2010||Get Him to the Greek||Pinnacle Executive|
|2012||21 Jump Street||Ms. Griggs|
|Rich Girl Problems||Lucretia||Short film|
|They Came Together||Karen|
|The Nobodies||Julie||Short film|
|2016||The Secret Life of Pets||Katie||Voice|
|2017||The Lego Batman Movie||Phyllis||Voice|
|Smurfs: The Lost Village||Smurf Blossom||Voice|
|2019||The Secret Life of Pets 2||Katie||Voice|
|2020||We Bare Bears: The Movie||Produce Lucy||Voice|
|The Stand In||Jenna Jones|
|2021||Home Sweet Home Alone||Pam McKenzie|
|2006||Sexual Intercourse: American Style||Cindy|
|2007||Redeeming Rainbow||Shelly||Television film|
|2007–2008||Mister Glasses||Kitty||5 episodes|
|2009–2010||Important Things with Demetri Martin||Allison / Felicia||2 episodes|
|2009–2013||The Office||Erin Hannon||Recurring: Season 5|
Main role: Seasons 6–9
|2010||The Office: The 3rd Floor||Erin Hannon||3 episodes|
|Robot Chicken||Bella Swan / Tracy / Female Passenger||Voice, episode: "Crushed by a Steamroller on My 53rd Birthday"|
|2012–2013||The Mindy Project||Heather||3 episodes|
|2013–2018||Sofia the First||Crackle||Voice; 10 episodes|
|2013||Brenda Forever||Brenda Miller||Unaired TV Pilot|
|2013–2014||Hollywood Game Night||Herself||2 episodes|
|2014||The Ellen DeGeneres Show||Herself (fill-in host)||Episode: "11.96"|
|American Dad!||Jenna||Voice, episode: "Introducing the Naughty Stewardesses"|
|Comedy Bang! Bang!||Herself||Episode: "Ellie Kemper Wears a Purple Ruffled Sleeveless Top & Lavender Flats"|
|2015||The Today Show||Herself (co-anchor, Today's Take)||Morning news program (June 29, 2015 – July 17, 2015)|
|WordGirl||Rose Franklin||Voice, episode: "News Girl"|
|Drunk History||Nellie Bly||Episode: "Journalism"|
|2015, 2017–2018||We Bare Bears||Produce Lucy||Voice, 4 episodes|
|2015–2020||Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt||Kimmy Schmidt||Main role (52 episodes)|
|2016||Animals.||Princess||Voice, episode: "Dogs."|
|All Hail King Julien||Karen||Voice, episode: "Revenge of the Prom"|
|2017||Julie's Greenroom||Herself||2 episodes|
|2018||The Who Was? Show||Herself (narrator for Amelia)||Episode: "Isaac Newton & Amelia Earhart"|
|2019||At Home with Amy Sedaris||Herself||Episode: "Anniversary"|
|Live in Front of a Studio Audience||Gloria Stivic||Episode: "Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons"|
|America's Got Talent||Herself (Guest Judge)||Season 14|
|2020||The Simpsons||Mary||Voice, episode: "A Springfield Summer Christmas for Christmas"|
- Kemper, Ellie (2018). My Squirrel Days. Scribner. ISBN 978-1-5011-6334-0.
Awards and nominations
- ^ a b "Ellie Kemper". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.,
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pennington, Gail (December 13, 2009). "From VP queen ...to 'The Office'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
- ^ "Bridal for Dorothy A. Jannarone". The New York Times. September 7, 1975.
- ^ "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". YouTube. January 26, 2011. Archived from the original on November 3, 2021. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- ^ Steinfeld, Curtis (December 10, 2014). "Profile: Ellie Kemper, Star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
- ^ O'Hare, Kate (July 12, 2016). "Ellie Kemper of 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Talks Being Catholic With Stephen Colbert". Family Theater Productions. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- ^ Beauchamp, Scott (September 2, 2014). "The Mystery of St. Louis's Veiled Prophet". The Atlantic.
- ^ "From VP queen ...to 'The Office'; John Burroughs graduate joins fellow St. Louisans Jenna Fischer and Phyllis Smith at Dunder Mifflin". stltoday.com. December 13, 2009.
- ^ "Actor Ellie Kemper Is Under Fire After Photos Of Her Being Crowned Queen Of A "Racist And Elitist" Ball Resurfaced". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
- ^ "What is the Veiled Prophet Ball and why is Ellie Kemper facing controversy?". The Independent. June 1, 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
- ^ Klotz, Kelsey (June 4, 2021). "Ellie Kemper's Veiled Prophet debutante ball past is more than a celebrity scandal". NBC News. Retrieved June 23, 2022.
- ^ Edwards, Amanda (June 7, 2021). "Ellie Kemper Apologizes for Participating in Event With "Unquestionably Racist" History". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
- ^ Strohm, Emily (June 7, 2021). "Ellie Kemper Apologizes for Participation in Controversial Pageant: 'Ignorance Is No Excuse'". People. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
- ^ "Ranking Princeton's Eating Clubs". PrincetonInfo. December 6, 2017.
- ^ Kemper, Elizabeth Claire (2002). Isn't It Ironic? (Thesis).
- ^ "1999 Preseason Women's Field Hockey Roster". FansOnly.com. Archived from the original on March 10, 2000.
- ^ a b c d e Tomlinson, Brett (April 15, 2009). "Office Addition". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
- ^ "John Legend, Brooke Shields and More Celebrities Who Went to Ivy League Schools". People.
- ^ "Ellie Kemper '02".
- ^ "Ellie Kemper, Star of Unbreakable Kimmu Schmidt and The Office, to Speak at Bucknell". Bucknell.edu. Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- ^ a b c d e Hensley, Dennis (July 17, 2009). "10 Comics to Watch: Ellie Kemper". Variety. Retrieved September 6, 2009.
- ^ "About – Quipfire!". Quipfire. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
- ^ a b c d e f "Ellie Kemper". Upright Citizens Brigade. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
- ^ Moynihan, Rob (January 18, 2016). "How I Got My SAG-AFTRA Card", TV Guide. p. 12.
- ^ "Kmart "Tent"". Archived from the original on November 3, 2021 – via www.youtube.com.
- ^ a b "Biographies". How to Kick People: About this Show. Archived from the original on May 26, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
- ^ "Colbert Report". Colbert Teen Talk. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- ^ "Ellie Kemper". The PIT. Retrieved April 15, 2006.
- ^ Polowy, Kevin (July 18, 2014). "Ellie Kemper Shares Some of Her Favorite Headlines She Authored for 'The Onion'". Yahoo. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
- ^ Kemper, Ellie (December 14, 2005). "Listen, Kid, The Biggest Thing You've Got Going For You Is Your Rack". McSweeney's. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
- ^ Kemper, Ellie (October 23, 2006). "Following My Creative Writing Teacher's Advice To Write 'Like My Parents Are Dead'". McSweeney's. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- ^ Kemper, Ellie (December 13, 2007). "Some Relatively Recent College Grads Discuss Their Maids". McSweeney's. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- ^ Kemper, Ellie. "Huffington Post Bloggers". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- ^ Kemper, Ellie (December 2, 2009). "I'm Not Exactly Afraid of Really Intense Fashion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- ^ "Ellie Kemper". The PIT. Archived from the original on September 6, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- ^ Cain, Brooke (March 21, 2009). "New receptionist on 'The Office'". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
- ^ "Ellie Kemper Interview". The A.V. Club. April 20, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
- ^ "Regarding Our Decision Never to See Me Again". CollegeHumor. February 1, 2007. Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- ^ "Last Night's Episode". NBC Message Boards. Archived from the original on September 13, 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- ^ "'The Talk:' 'Bridesmaids' Ellie Kemper Tells Hosts Her Wedding Horror Stories". The Hollywood Reporter. October 4, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
- ^ Masters, Megan (March 29, 2013). "American Dad Cast – Ellie Kemper to Voice Popular Girl". TVLine. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- ^ ""Company Picnic" Q&A with Jen Celotta". OfficeTally. May 22, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
- ^ Ostroff, Joshua (May 20, 2009). "Leaders of the New School: Great performances in the margins brought a so-so season to life". Eye Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2009.[permanent dead link]
- ^ Shaw, Andy (May 7, 2009). "The Office: "Cafe Disco"". TV Fodder. Retrieved May 8, 2009.
- ^ McAuliffe, Josh (May 8, 2009). ""Cafe Disco" Recap". The Times-Tribune. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Retrieved May 8, 2009.[permanent dead link]
- ^ Myles, McNutt (February 16, 2012). "Tallahassee". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- ^ Hertz, Barry (October 28, 2011). "The Office, Season 8, Episode 5: Recap". National Post. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
- ^ McNutt, Myles (October 27, 2011). "Spooked". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
- ^ McNutt, Myles (December 8, 2011). "Christmas Wishes". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- ^ Mader, Jill (January 20, 2012). "The Office – Episode 8–12 Review – "A Party to Remember"". InsidePulse. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- ^ Tedder, Michael (February 10, 2012). "The Office Recap: Florida Facts". New York. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- ^ Michael Martin, "Why Tituss Burgess Makes Tina Fey Laugh", Out, March 4, 2015.
- ^ McHenry, Jackson. "Allison Williams's Face Is the Only Thing That Calms Ellie Kemper's Baby". Vulture. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- ^ Will Lerner, "'Today' Announces Ellie Kemper as New Co-Host", Yahoo TV, June 25, 2015.
- ^ "Watch This INSANE 'AGT' Hand Balancing Act Sneak Peek! — Guest Judge Ellie Kemper". Talent Recap. July 26, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
- ^ Perkins, Dennis (March 19, 2018). "John Oliver hijacks homophobe Mike Pence's bunny book with a better one in A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo". AV Club. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- ^ Canfield, David (April 2, 2019). "Listen to Kimmy Schmidt read from The Legends of Greemulax". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
- ^ Chan, Tim (October 20, 2018). "Ellie Kemper's Irreverent New Book Tracks Her Missteps and Misadventures in Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- ^ Schutte, Lauren (December 9, 2011). "The actress' fiance, Michael Koman, is a former "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Colbert Report" writer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- ^ Schwartz, Alison (July 7, 2012). "Ellie Kemper Is Married!". People. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- ^ Respers, Lisa (August 2, 2016). "'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' star Ellie Kemper gives birth". CNN. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
- ^ Moniuskzo, Sara (October 5, 2019). "Ellie Kemper reveals she gave birth last month, shares name (and first photo) of baby no. 2". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 6, 2019. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
- ^ "Ellie Kemper of 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Talks Being Catholic With Stephen Colbert". Faith & Family Media Blog. Archived from the original on July 18, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- ^ Dipu, Ragesh (June 11, 2019). "Upcoming Ellie Kemper New Movies / TV Shows (2019, 2020)". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
- Ellie Kemper at IMDb
- 1980 births
- Living people
- 21st-century American actresses
- 21st-century American comedians
- Actresses from Kansas City, Missouri
- Actresses from St. Louis
- American people of Breton descent
- American people of English descent
- American people of French descent
- American people of German descent
- American people of Italian descent
- Alumni of Worcester College, Oxford
- American comedy writers
- American debutantes
- American female field hockey players
- American film actresses
- American television actresses
- American voice actresses
- American women comedians
- Catholics from Missouri
- Catholics from New York (state)
- Kemper family
- The Onion people
- Princeton Tigers field hockey players
- Upright Citizens Brigade Theater performers
- John Burroughs School alumni