Kate McKinnon is a comedic performer, best known for her work on the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live (SNL). McKinnon, who is openly gay, got her big break in television as part of the cast of the Logo network's The Big Gay Sketch Show. The audition process involved several grueling rounds in front of producer Rosie O'Donnell, who slashed the field from thousands to just 16. Later, in 2012, McKinnon debuted as a featured player on SNL and was promoted to repertory status in 2013. She quickly became a breakout star with her off-the-wall yet eerily accurate impressions of celebrities and politicians.
Outside of her sketch comedy work, McKinnon has also appeared in a number of high-profile films over the years. In 2016, she starred in the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. Over the course of her career, McKinnon has been nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and seven for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning in 2016 and 2017. McKinnon also won a Critics' Choice Television Award and was named USA Today's Entertainer of the Year in 2016.
McKinnon might be one of the few people who can say that they laughed their way through a Columbia University degree. But by all accounts, she had a big presence on campus after enrolling in 2002. Impressively, McKinnon played more than 60 characters in various productions as a theater major at Columbia, transforming herself completely each time. Even more, Columbia also gave McKinnon the opportunity to be more open about her sexuality. "Even in high school, I thought maybe there was a chance it would go away and I wouldn’t have to tell the world about it. Once I knew for sure I was going to be this way my whole life, it became necessary to have everyone know," she said.
In her final semester on campus, McKinnon co-founded a comedy group, Tea Party, which focused on musical improv comedy, and often provided the music from her piano. In 2006 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater from Columbia University.
Lucky for McKinnon, she didn't have to wait long to be recognized by her alma mater. In 2013 the comedic actress was back on campus after being named the 10th recipient of the Varsity Show's prestigious I. A. L. Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. McKinnon was recognized for her work in comedy, most notably as a featured player on SNL. In her acceptance speech, McKinnon credited her experiences in the Varsity Shows at Columbia (she performed in 3 of them as a student) as a formative part of her growth as a comedienne. More specifically, it was at Columbia that she learned the art of sketch comedy, from creating characters to being able to improvise as them.