Kate McKinnon

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Kate McKinnon
Kate McKinnon 2018 (cropped).jpg
McKinnon promoting The Spy Who Dumped Me
Kathryn McKinnon Berthold

(1984-01-06) January 6, 1984 (age 36)
EducationColumbia University (BA)
  • Actress
  • comedian
  • writer
Years active2007–present

Kathryn McKinnon Berthold[1] (born January 6, 1984)[2] is an American actress, comedian and writer. She is known for her character work and celebrity impressions on the sketch comedy series The Big Gay Sketch Show (2007–2010) and Saturday Night Live (2012–present).[3][1] McKinnon has appeared in films such as Balls Out (2014), Ghostbusters (2016), Office Christmas Party (2016), Rough Night (2017), The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018), Yesterday (2019), and Bombshell (2019).

McKinnon has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and six for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2016 and 2017.

Early life[edit]

McKinnon was born and raised in the Long Island town of Sea Cliff, New York,[1][4] to Laura Campbell, a parent educator, and Michael Thomas Berthold, an architect.[5][6][7] She has a younger sister, comedian Emily Lynne, whom she has collaborated with before on the Audible series, Heads Will Roll,[8] as well as digital series, “Notary Publix”.[1][7] Her father died when she was 18 years old.[1][6] She is of German and Scottish descent.[9]

As a child, McKinnon played several instruments. She started playing the piano when she was five years old, the cello when she was 12, and taught herself how to play the guitar when she was 15.[10]

McKinnon's knack for accents began when she was in fifth grade. She auditioned to be "the queen of reading week" and used an English accent. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she says, "I think the genesis of my entire life, probably, was the smiles I elicited doing this British accent. I've been chasing that dragon ever since."[11]

She graduated from North Shore High School in 2002,[12][3] and from Columbia University in 2006 with a degree in theatre, where she co-founded a comedy group, Tea Party, which focused on musical improv comedy.[1][13] At Columbia, she starred in three Varsity shows: V109 "Dial D for Deadline", V110 "Off-Broadway" and V111 "The Sound of Muses".[14][15][16] She was also a member of Prangstgrüp, a student comedy group which set up and recorded elaborate college pranks.[17]


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.[18]

Since 2008, she has performed live sketch comedy regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City.[18][19] She has also worked as a voice-over actress, and has voiced characters for series such as The Venture Bros., Robotomy, and Ugly Americans.[19][20] In 2009, McKinnon won a Logo NewNowNext Award for Best Rising Comic.[21] She was nominated for an ECNY Emerging Comic Award in 2010.[18] 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.[22] 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 has made appearances as a voice actress in series like The Simpsons (as Hettie in season 27, episode 14 "Gal of Constant Sorrow") and Family Guy (a voice in season 14, episode 15 "An App a Day", as Karen / Heavy Flo in season 14, episode 6 "Peter's Sister", and a voice in season 15, episode 9 "How the Griffin Stole Christmas"), and films such as Finding Dory (as Stan's fish wife), The Angry Birds Movie (as Stella / Eva the Birthday Mom) and Ferdinand (as Lupe). McKinnon currently voices the character of Ms. Frizzle in the reboot of the Magic School Bus children's series.[23] McKinnon also voices Squeeks the Mouse In The PBS Kids TV Series Nature Cat.

McKinnon is known for her character work[24] and celebrity impressions[25] of pop singer Justin Bieber, comedian television host Ellen DeGeneres, and numerous political figures, including Hillary Clinton, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Senator Lindsey Graham, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Kellyanne Conway, Robert Mueller, Angela Merkel, and Rudy Giuliani. She has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and six for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2016 and 2017.

Saturday Night Live[edit]

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 Vanessa Bayer's departure, McKinnon is now the longest serving female cast member.[26] She also surpassed Bayer as the longest serving female performer in history when on May 4, 2019, McKinnon entered her 150th episode as a cast member, compared to Bayer's 149 episodes. As of April 2020, she has been a cast member for 169 episodes.

In 2013, McKinnon was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Comedy.[27] McKinnon won the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Supporting Actress, TV for her work on SNL.[28] In 2014, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series,[29] as well as for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics along with four of her colleagues for the song "(Do It On My) Twin Bed".[30] She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the second time in 2015.[31] She won the following next year, becoming the first actor from SNL to win the award since Dana Carvey in 1993.[citation needed]

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.[32] McKinnon has said that her impression of Hillary Clinton comes from a deep admiration, and that she "unequivocally want[ed] her to win" the 2016 presidential election.[33] 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.[34] After the election, McKinnon began to impersonate Kellyanne Conway alongside Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. On February 11, 2017, she debuted her impression of Elizabeth Warren during Weekend Update and Jeff Sessions in the cold open.

Saturday Night Live characters[edit]

  • Olya Povlatsky, a Russian woman who voices her opinions on current events, comparing them to the outrageous struggles she faces in her village. She also appeared in a cold open with Beck Bennett as Vladimir Putin reading a prepared statement against her will.
  • Sheila Sovage, a heavily intoxicated woman at a bar who meets and hooks up with a heavily intoxicated man or woman, played by the host, at closing time.
  • Jodi Cork, one of the hosts of Women in the Workplace.
  • Barbara DeDrew, a lesbian volunteer at the cat shelter Whiskers R We.
  • Deenie, a.k.a. "Somebody's Mom", a middle-aged woman who attempts to recap shows she's been watching, but only knows the characters by self-applied nicknames, such as "Big Boobs" and "Mustache". She is always eating some foul concoction out of Tupperware, such as Brussels sprouts and imitation crab, which generally both revolts and breaks up Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost.
  • Mrs. Santini, an apartment dweller who writes passive-aggressive notes to her neighbors. Originally performed as Effie Villalopolus on Comedy Bang! Bang!
  • Colleen Rafferty, a twenty-seven-year-old woman (despite looking middle-aged) who appears in panels in which other sketch participants (mostly Cecily Strong as a hippie woman named Sharon alongside the episode's host) recount idyllic paranormal events (such as being abducted by aliens twice, having a near-death experience, discovering that Santa Claus is real, being visited by ghosts, and discovering that time travel is possible), while Rafferty experiences less enjoyable versions and invariably loses her pants.
  • Les Dykawitz, a lesbian cop from the 1970s who works for Chicago PD along with her partner Chubina Fatzarelli (played by Aidy Bryant) in "Dyke & Fats".
  • Debette Goldry, a senile, septuagenarian actress whose harsh experiences with being an actress in Hollywood (including the on-going issues of equal pay, sexual harassment and abuse, racial diversity in film roles, and actresses getting involved behind the camera as directors and writers) are more outrageous than what modern actresses have gone through.
  • A member of Woodbridge High School's theatre troupe who make their performances obsessively and solely about social justice issues that they know very little about.
  • Noelle LeSoup, the co-host of the French show "America's Funniest Cats" who appears on the American version of the show along with Joelle LaRue (played by Cecily Strong).
  • Shud, a crass mermaid who is based on a blobfish, and makes sexual advances on an unfortunate marooned sailor.

Saturday Night Live impressions[edit]

Work as a creator[edit]

Aside from SNL, McKinnon also co-created and co-stars in the web series Notary Publix with her sister Emily Lynne.[35][36] In addition to Aidy Bryant (who stars in the series), McKinnon's SNL co-stars Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah and SNL writer Paula Pell all guest-starred in the six-episode first season of the web series.[35]

McKinnon and Lynne also created and released the fantasy-comedy Audible audio series Heads Will Roll, which premiered in May 2019.[8] The show features guest appearances from Meryl Streep, Peter Dinklage, Audra McDonald, Bob the Drag Queen, Queer Eye's Fab Five, and Tim Gunn. Additionally, many of McKinnon's SNL co-stars are featured, including Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffat, Heidi Gardner and Chris Redd.[37]

Other work[edit]

In 2015, McKinnon appeared in a number of commercials for the Ford Focus.[38]

In 2016, McKinnon co-hosted the 31st Independent Spirit Awards with Kumail Nanjiani.[39]

In 2019 she played a supporting role in the summer movie Yesterday.[40]

Personal life[edit]

McKinnon is a lesbian, and was previously in a romantic relationship with photographer and actress Jackie Abbott.[41][42] While presenting an award to Ellen DeGeneres at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in 2020, McKinnon opened up about being gay and thanked DeGeneres for making it less scary for her to accept her sexual orientation while watching her TV sitcom, Ellen.[43] While attending Columbia University, she dated future journalist Bari Weiss.[44]

McKinnon has a cat, Nino Positano—named for a pizza restaurant where he was found—whom she jokingly refers to as her son.[45][46] McKinnon's love of cats has extended to her work: a lesbian cat adoption skit on SNL; voiceover work on PBS' Nature Cat; and being cast in the big cat serial podcast as Carole Baskin.[47] During the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, SNL at Home used skits from the cast's homes with McKinnon presenting a "bottom of the barrel" edition of "Whiskers R We" with Nino humorously disguised as all twenty adoptees.[48]

She does not use social media, citing fear that she will "misrepresent her true feelings".[49]



Year Title Role Notes
2010 Mr. Ross Debby Short film
2011 Elizabeth Taylor's Video Will Elizabeth Taylor Short film
Pudding Face Amy Short film
2012 My Best Day Heather
Hannah Has a Ho-Phase Nicky
2014 Life Partners Trace
Balls Out Vicky Albrecht
2015 Giant Sloth Nina Voice role
Short film
Ted 2 Herself
Staten Island Summer Mrs. Bandini Jr.
Sisters Sam
2016 The Angry Birds Movie Stella / Eva Voice roles; Cameo
Finding Dory Inez Voice role
Ghostbusters Dr. Jillian Holtzmann
Masterminds Jandice Gartrell
Office Christmas Party Mary Winetoss
2017 Rough Night Pippa
Leap! Régine Le Haut / Felicie's Mother / Mother Superior Voice roles
Ferdinand Lupe Voice role
2018 Irreplaceable You Glass Half Full Kate
Family[50] Jill
The Spy Who Dumped Me Morgan Freeman
2019 Yesterday Debra Hammer
Bombshell Jess Carr


Year Title Role Notes
2007–2010 The Big Gay Sketch Show Various 23 episodes
2008 Mayne Street Olga Svenson Episode: "Parking Tickets"
2010 We Have to Stop Now Angela Episode: "Celesbianism"
2010 Concierge: The Series Mary 3 episodes
2010 Vag Magazine Bethany 6 episodes
2010–2011 Robotomy Additional voices 5 episodes
2010–2016 The Venture Bros. Nikki and Margaret Fictel / Additional voices 10 episodes
2011 The Back Room Susan Boyle Episode: "Todd Barry"
2011 The 40-Year-Old 20-Year-Old Kate 5 episodes
2012–present Saturday Night Live Various Main cast
2012 Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday Various 2 episodes
2013 Toy Story of Terror! PEZ Cat (voice) Television special
2013 Hudson Valley Ballers Just Jamie 2 episodes
2014 Comedy Bang! Bang! Effie Villalopolus Episode: "Nick Offerman Wears a Green Flannel Shirt & Brown Boots"
2014–2015 The Awesomes Lola Gold / Additional voices 7 episodes
2015 China, IL Sunshine (voice) 5 episodes
2015 The Spoils Before Dying Dallas Boudreaux[51] Episode: "That's Jazz"
2015 Difficult People Abra Cadouglas[52] Episode: "Pledge Week"[53]
2015 Moonbeam City Panache Miller (voice) Episode: "Lasers and Liars"
2015–2016 Family Guy Karen Griffin / Additional voices 3 episodes
2015–present Nature Cat Squeeks (voice) 21 episodes
2016 31st Independent Spirit Awards Herself (host) Television special
2016 Maya & Marty Heidi Cruz Episode: "Jimmy Fallon & Miley Cyrus"
2016 The Simpsons Hettie Mae Boggs (voice) Episode: "Gal of Constant Sorrow"
2017 Friends from College Shawna Episode: "All-Nighter"
2017–2018 The Magic School Bus Rides Again Fiona Felicity Frizzle (voice) Main role
2018 Sesame Street Mother Goose[54] Episode: "Elmo's Nursery Rhyme"
2019 Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Herself [55]
TBA The Dropout Elizabeth Holmes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2015 LEGO Dimensions Dr. Jillian Holtzmann

Audio series[edit]

Year Title Role Production role
2019 Heads Will Roll Queen Mortunana of the Night Realm Co-Creator/Author[56]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2009 NewNowNext Awards[57] Brink of Fame: Comic Won
2010 ECNY Awards[18] Emerging Comic Award Nominated
2012 Ashland Independent Film Festival Award Special Jury Mention for Acting Ensemble: Feature My Best Day Won
2013 EWwy Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Saturday Night Live Nominated
Gold Derby Awards Breakthrough Performer of the Year Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program Nominated
2014 American Comedy Award[58] Comedy Supporting Actress – TV Won
Behind The Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a TV Special/Direct-to-DVD Title or Theatrical Short Toy Story of Terror! Nominated
Dorian Award[59] Wilde Wit of the Year Nominated
Gold Derby Awards Best Variety Performer Saturday Night Live Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award[60] Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Nominated
2015 Gold Derby Awards Best Variety Performer Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program Nominated
Best Ensemble in a Fiction Program Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2016 Gold Derby Awards Best Variety Performer Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Award Best Female Performance in a Variety Program Nominated
Best Ensemble in a Variety, Reality or Non-Fiction Program Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actress in a Comedy Series Won
The Advocate Awards The Advocate's Person of the Year Finalist[61]
USA Today Awards USA Today's Entertainer of the Year Won[62]
Critics' Choice Award Best Actress in a Comedy Movie Ghostbusters Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Comedic Performance Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle Best Comedic Actress Won
Best Female Action Hero Won
Best Ensemble Nominated
2017 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Comedic Collaboration Saturday Night Live Nominated
Dorian Awards T.V. Musical Performance of the Year Won
Wilde Wit of the Year Nominated
Wildest Artist of the Year Won
Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Nature Cat Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Saturday Night Live Won
2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Comedic Performance Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2019 Nominated

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]