Kate McKinnon | Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters, Movies, & Biography (2024)

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Early life Career

American actress


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Also known as: Kathryn McKinnon Berthold

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Alison Eldridge Alison Eldridge was Managing Editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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Kate McKinnon

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In full:
Kathryn McKinnon Berthold
January 6, 1984, Sea Cliff, New York, U.S. (age 40)
Awards And Honors:
Emmy Award (2017)
Emmy Award (2016)

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Kate McKinnon (born January 6, 1984, Sea Cliff, New York, U.S.) is an American actress and comedian known for her off-the-wall character work and spot-on impressions. She is best known for her time on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL; 1975– ), which she appeared on for a decade.

Early life

Kathryn McKinnon Berthold was born and raised in Sea Cliff, New York, a village on Long Island. Her mother, Laura Campbell, was a family support advocate, and her father, Michael Thomas Berthold, worked as an architect. As a child, she was known for her affinity for doing impressions and comedic voices, and she made videos with her younger sister, Emily Lynne Berthold, who would also later go on to become a comedian. In a 2007 interview with Columbia College Today magazine, McKinnon recalled: “I’ve been doing funny voices since I was 5. It’s always been the way I communicated most comfortably with the rest of the world.” She played music as well: piano from age 5, cello from age 12, and guitar starting at age 15. Her father encouraged her to start watching SNL when she was 12 years old. She graduated from North Shore High School in 2002 and went on to attend Columbia University, where she starred in several stage productions, graduating in 2006 with a theater degree. At Columbia she helped found a musical improv comedy troupe and was part of a comedy group that pranked students.


During her senior year at Columbia, McKinnon was cast in a sketch comedy show called The Big Gay Sketch Show, which ran for three seasons, from 2006 to 2010, on Logo, a TV network focused on an LGBTQ+ audience. During this time she also appeared in minor television roles. In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, she remembered tempering her expectations when she auditioned for SNL in 2012: “[Becoming an SNL cast member] was my specific dream, but I had really made peace with the fact that it wasn’t gonna happen for me, and that’s OK.” Despite her initial doubts, later in 2012 she joined the cast of SNL as a featured player, where she became known for her impressions of celebrity figures, such as politicians Hillary Clinton (especially during Clinton’s 2016 run for president) and Elizabeth Warren, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and entrepreneur Martha Stewart. McKinnon, who identifies as a lesbian, was the show’s first openly gay woman cast member. During her time on the show she was nominated for 10 Emmy Awards, with wins in 2016 and 2017 for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. When she stepped down from SNL in 2022, McKinnon was the show’s longest-running female cast member to date. In late 2023 McKinnon returned to SNL as a host. In a 2023 interview on the talk show Late Night with Seth Meyers, Meyers asked McKinnon if she was nervous about hosting the show, to which she replied:

No. It’s something I always wanted to do. [The] dream was to be on the show, and then dream of dreams, exponential dream, was to host the show—which is like, beyond the imagination.

Alongside SNL, McKinnon continued to perform in television and film. Known for her voice work, she performed voice-over roles for TV shows, such as The Simpsons (1989– ), The Venture Bros. (2003–18), and Family Guy (1999– ), and animated films, including The Angry Birds Movie (2016) and Finding Dory (2016). She voiced the role of Squeeks the Mouse on the PBS animated series Nature Cat (2015– ) and took on the starring voice role of Ms. Fiona Frizzle in the Netflix reboot of The Magic School Bus animated series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again (2017–21). In 2022 she voiced the role of a villainous guinea pig named Lulu in the animated superhero comedy film DC League of Super-Pets.

McKinnon’s breakout film performance was in 2016’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, a remake with an all-female leading cast of the 1984 classic supernatural comedy film. McKinnon played Jillian Holtzmann, an eccentric nuclear scientist, alongside Melissa McCarthy, fellow SNL cast member Leslie Jones, and SNL alum Kristen Wiig. The following year she starred with Scarlett Johansson in the dark comedy Rough Night, about a group of young women who try to cover up an accidental murder. For her role as Pippa, McKinnon took on an Australian accent. In 2018 she starred with Mila Kunis in the action comedy film The Spy Who Dumped Me. McKinnon pivoted slightly from her usual roles in 2019’s Bombshell, a drama based on the true story of female employees attempting to expose CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment at Fox News. In 2023 McKinnon made a splash in director Greta Gerwig’s fantasy comedy blockbuster Barbie as the enigmatic and endearing Weird Barbie, a roughly handled, wizened doll who sports an esoteric style.

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McKinnon has appeared in a number of other productions, including performing sketch and improv comedy as a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe in New York City and starring in the solo show Kate McKinnon on Ice (2011).

Alison Eldridge

Kate McKinnon | Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters, Movies, & Biography (2024)
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