Kate McKinnon was born in Sea Cliff, New York in 1984. She played musical instruments as a child, including the piano and the guitar, and when she attended Columbia University she co-founded the musical improv comedy group Tea Party, and in 2006 she graduated with a major in theater.
Her first big break came in 2007 when she joined the Rosie O’Donnell-produced series on Logo TV, The Big Gay Sketch Show, which featured gay-themed comedy sketches and lasted three seasons, all of which McKinnon was a part of.
McKinnon also performed regularly in the Upright Citizens Brigade improv group but her biggest exposure came in 2012 when she became a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Her impressions and characters are so good that she became the first SNL cast member since Dana Carvey in 1993 to win an Emmy for their performance on the show.
She is known for impersonating celebrities like Justin Bieber, Hillary Clinton, Kellyanne Conway, Ellen Degeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Sessions.
Her original characters are just as hilarious as her impressions though: Olya Pavlotsky, the poor Russian villager who often visits Weekend Update to talk about Russian politics and ends up revealing her shockingly bad living conditions; Sheila Sovage, who always ends up hooking up with the only guy left in the bar at last call (because by then they are both drunk and desperate); Colleen Rafferty, a middle-aged woman who recounts the bizarre interactions with her alien abductors.
She continues to act in several movies and shows including many that are high-profile, such as The Angry Birds Movie, Finding Dory, Ghostbusters, Office Christmas Party, Rough Night, The Simpsons, Family Guy and The Venture Bros. Upcoming work includes Blue Sky Animation’s Ferdinand and The Magic School Bus Rides Again where she voices Ms. Frizzle.
She also co-created and stars in a web series that may have flown under your radar: Notary Publix, which also stars McKinnon’s sister Emily Lynne and features many of her SNL co-stars.
McKinnon is one of the funniest people in show business right now and was practically the jewel in the crown of SNL’s last season. She continues to be a treasure trove of comedy even in interviews, quickly whipping out sharp observational humor like a young Robin Williams, and her complete embodiment of the characters she plays and her effortless-seeming way of making these characters funny but still feel real is a great showcase for her comedic gifts.