Ellie Kemper
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Ellie Kemper
Ellie Kemper
Kemper smiling
Kemper in 2002
Born Elizabeth Claire Kemper
(1980-05-02) May 2, 1980 (age 37)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Education Princeton University (BA)
Worcester College, Oxford
Occupation Actress, comedian
Years active 2006-present
Michael Koman (m. 2012)
Children 1
Relatives Carrie Kemper (sister)
William Thornton Kemper, Sr. (great-great-grandfather)

Elizabeth Claire Kemper (born May 2, 1980[1]) is an American actress and comedian. She first gained prominence for her starring role as receptionist Erin Hannon in the NBC comedy series The Office (2009-2013). She later gained further critical acclaim for her eponymous role in the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-present), for which she has received two nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Kemper is also known for her roles in the films Bridesmaids (2011) and 21 Jump Street (2012).

Early life

Kemper was born in Kansas City, Missouri,[1] the second of four children of Dorothy "Dotty" Ann Jannarone and David Woods Kemper, a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Missouri.[2][3] She is the granddaughter of Mildred Lane Kemper, the namesake of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis, for which the family donated $5 million. Kemper's father was the chairman and chief executive officer of Commerce Bancshares, a bank holding company founded by the Kemper family (her paternal great-great-grandfather was banker William Thornton Kemper, Sr.).

She is the older sister of television writer Carrie Kemper. Kemper has Italian (from her maternal grandfather), English, French (Kemper is the Breton name of the city Quimper) and German ancestry.[4] Kemper was raised Roman Catholic.[5]

Her family moved to St. Louis when Kemper was five years old. She attended Conway Elementary School in the affluent suburb of Ladue and then 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.[2]

In 1999, Kemper made her debut at the Veiled Prophet Ball, where she was named the Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty.[6]

Kemper graduated from Princeton University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.[2] At Princeton, she played field hockey in the 1999 season,[7] and said she sat on the bench "roughly 97 percent" of the time.[8] Her field hockey team went to the national championship in her first year, but she quit the team in later years to focus on theatre.[2]

She then attended the University of Oxford, where she studied at Worcester College towards a graduate degree in English.[9]


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.
Ellie Kemper[10]

Kemper continued her interest in improvisational comedy while in Princeton. She participated in Quipfire!, Princeton's oldest improv comedy group,[11] and the Princeton Triangle Club, a touring musical comedy theater troupe.[2] She also appeared in a radio spot for Dunkin' Donuts.[12]

Kemper earned her Screen Actors Guild card doing commercial advertising of a one-week sale of tents at Kmart. The commercial featured her camping with an onscreen husband, and a shot in which a tarantula crawls across her face.[13] She regularly appeared in comedy sketches on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in the late 2000s, and has made guest appearances on Important Things with Demetri Martin,[2] and E! Television's The Gastineau Girls,[12][14] which has been described as her "breakout role". She has appeared on Fuse TV's The P.A. In October 2008, Kemper appeared on The Colbert Report in a PSA for Teen Voter Abstinence.[15] Kemper has written several sketch comedy shows[16] many of them with her comedy partner Scott Eckert,[12] a fellow Princeton grad.[8] Kemper is a contributing writer for the national satirical newspaper The Onion,[17] and for McSweeney's.[12][18][19][20] She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post.[21][22]

Kemper performing "Feeling Sad/Mad with Ellie Kemper" at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in 2008

Upon moving to New York City, Kemper participated in the People's Improv Theatre[8] 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.[12] At the UCB, she performed with the house improv teams Mailer Daemon and fwand.[12] At the People's Improv Theatre she performs with the house improv team Big Black Car.[23] In August 2008, she auditioned for a spot on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, but was not cast.[10] In July 2009, Kemper was named one of Variety magazine's "10 Comics To Watch".[10]

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[8]

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.[14] She also performed in the one-woman show "Feeling Sad/Mad with Ellie Kemper"[10] 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.[24]

Kemper gained some Internet fame in August 2007 for her part in "Blowjob Girl," a humor video on the sketch comedy site Derrick Comedy. The video, which was circulated on the popular site CollegeHumor, was a two-minute close-up of Kemper offering to perform oral sex on her boyfriend, but startling him by promising to bite and smash his genitals, which she seems to believe is arousing.[25] 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."[26] Kemper has also contributed an article to CollegeHumor entitled "Regarding Our Decision Never to See Me Again."[27] She also had a minor role in the 2009 film Mystery Team. Kemper starred in the fake iPhone commercial on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in January 2007, six months before the first iPhone was released.[28] Kemper appeared in the Sofia Coppola comedy-drama Somewhere in 2010.[10] She appeared in Bridesmaids in 2011.[29] On April 3, 2013, it was announced that Kemper would be voicing a character in an episode of the animated sitcom American Dad!.[30]

Kemper on the red carpet at the 38th People's Choice Awards on January 11, 2012

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".[2] Kemper described herself as a "huge fan" of the show and was thrilled to be on the show.[8] 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.[2]Jennifer Celotta, a screenwriter with the series, described Kemper as a "fun addition" to the show.[31]

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.[2] 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."[32] Andy Shaw of TV Fodder said she "adds some freshness to the cast"[33] and Josh McAuliffe of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said he liked Erin's "cheerful, appealingly goofy personality".[34] Many critics have singled her out as a highlight of the show's eighth season following Steve Carell's departure.[35][36][37][38][39][40] 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.[2]

She appears in the Netflix original comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as the fish-out-of-water title character. She plays a former cult-member/abductee who wants to shed the victim pity of her small hometown and moves to New York.[41] Her performance on this show has been widely acclaimed, and she received multiple nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award[42] and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

In the summer of 2015, Kemper served as a temporary co-host of The Today Show alongside Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Tamron Hall, and Willie Geist.[43]

Personal life

Kemper is a practicing Roman Catholic.[44]

In 2012, she became engaged to her boyfriend Michael Koman, a former writer on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and the co-creator of the Adult Swim series Eagleheart and Comedy Central series Nathan for You.[45][46] The couple married on July 7, 2012.[47] They have a son, James, born in 2016.[48]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Sexual Intercourse: American Style Cindy
2007 Redeeming Rainbow Shelly Movie
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 (107 episodes)
2010 The Office: The 3rd Floor Erin Hannon 3 episodes
2012 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Fitzpatrick Episode: "Whack-a-Mole"
2012 Robot Chicken Kendra / Female Passenger (voice) Episode: "Crushed by a Steamroller on My 53rd Birthday"
2012-2013 The Mindy Project Heather 3 episodes
2013-2016 Sofia the First Crackle (voice) 7 episodes
2013-2014 Hollywood Game Night Herself 2 episodes
2013 Brenda Forever Brenda Miller Movie
2014 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Herself (fill-in host) Episode: "11.96"
2014 American Dad! Jenna (voice) Episode: "Introducing the Naughty Stewardesses"
2014 Comedy Bang! Bang! Herself Episode: "Ellie Kemper Wears a Purple Ruffled Sleeveless Top & Lavender Flats"
2015-present Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kimmy Schmidt Main role (39 episodes)
2015 The Today Show Herself (co-anchor, Today's Take) Morning news program (June 29, 2015 - July 17, 2015)
2015, 2017 We Bare Bears Produce Lucy (voice) 3 episodes
2015 Drunk History Nellie Bly Episode: "Journalism"
2016 Animals. Princess (voice) Episode: "Dogs."
2016 All Hail King Julien Karen (voice) Episode: "Revenge of the Prom"
2017 Julie's Greenroom Herself Episode: "Morning at the Improv"


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Mystery Team Jamie
Cayman Went Girl in Bar
2010 Get Him to the Greek Pinnacle Executive
Somewhere Claire
2011 Bridesmaids Becca
2012 21 Jump Street Ms. Griggs
Rich Girl Problems Lucretia Short film
2013 Identity Thief Flo Uncredited[]
2014 Laggies Allison
Sex Tape Tess
They Came Together Karen
The Nobodies Julie Short film
2016 The Secret Life of Pets Katie Voice role
2017 The Lego Batman Movie Phyllis Voice role
Smurfs: The Lost Village Smurf Blossom Voice role

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2010 Golden Nymph Awards Outstanding Actress - Comedy Series[] The Office Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2011 Nominated
2012 Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Ensemble Cast[] Bridesmaids Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Jaw Dropping Moment Won
Best Cast Nominated
New York Film Critics Online Best Ensemble[] Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Won
2013 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series The Office Nominated
2015 Webby Awards Best Actress Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2016 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2017 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Ellie Kemper". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved 2016. 
  2. ^ 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 2010. 
  3. ^ "Bridal for Dorothy A. Jannarone". The New York Times. September 7, 1975. 
  4. ^ "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". YouTube. January 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011. 
  5. ^ Steinfeld, Curtis (December 10, 2014). "Profile: Ellie Kemper, Star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2017. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ "1999 Preseason Women's Field Hockey Roster". FansOnly.com. Archived from the original on March 10, 2000. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Tomlinson, Brett (April 15, 2009). "Office Addition". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  9. ^ "Ellie Kemper, Star of Unbreakable Kimmu Schmidt and The Office, to Speak at Bucknell". bucknell.edu. Retrieved 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Hensley, Dennis (July 17, 2009). "10 Comics to Watch: Ellie Kemper". Variety. Retrieved 2009. 
  11. ^ "About - Quipfire!". Quipfire. Retrieved 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Ellie Kemper". Upright Citizens Brigade. Retrieved 2015. 
  13. ^ Moynihan, Rob (January 18, 2016). "How I Got My SAG-AFTRA Card", TV Guide. p. 12.
  14. ^ a b "Biographies". How to Kick People: About this Show. Retrieved 2009. 
  15. ^ "Colbert Report". Colbert Teen Talk. Retrieved 2009. 
  16. ^ "Ellie Kemper". The PIT. Retrieved 2006. 
  17. ^ "Contact The Onion". The Onion. 
  18. ^ 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 2011. 
  19. ^ 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 2009. 
  20. ^ Kemper, Ellie (December 13, 2007). "Some Relatively Recent College Grads Discuss Their Maids". McSweeney's. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  21. ^ Kemper, Ellie. "Huffington Post Bloggers". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010. 
  22. ^ Kemper, Ellie (December 2, 2009). "I'm Not Exactly Afraid of Really Intense Fashion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010. 
  23. ^ "Ellie Kemper". The PIT. Archived from the original on September 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  24. ^ Cain, Brooke (March 21, 2009). "New receptionist on 'The Office'". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  25. ^ "I'm Gonna Make it Sooo Dry For You.." AmFmPm. May 7, 2007. Retrieved 2009. 
  26. ^ "Ellie Kemper Interview". The A.V. Club. April 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010. 
  27. ^ "Regarding Our Decision Never to See Me Again". CollegeHumor. February 1, 2007. Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved 2010. 
  28. ^ "Last Night's Episode". NBC Message Boards. Archived from the original on September 13, 2007. Retrieved 2009. 
  29. ^ "Ellie Kemper". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010. 
  30. ^ Masters, Megan (March 29, 2013). "American Dad Cast - Ellie Kemper to Voice Popular Girl". TVLine. Retrieved 2013. 
  31. ^ ""Company Picnic" Q&A with Jen Celotta". OfficeTally. May 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  32. ^ 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 2009. [permanent dead link]
  33. ^ Shaw, Andy (May 7, 2009). "The Office: "Cafe Disco"". TV Fodder. Retrieved 2009. 
  34. ^ McAuliffe, Josh (May 8, 2009). ""Cafe Disco" Recap". The Times-Tribune. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2009. [permanent dead link]
  35. ^ Myles, McNutt (February 16, 2012). "Tallahassee". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012. 
  36. ^ Hertz, Barry (October 28, 2011). "The Office, Season 8, Episode 5: Recap". National Post. Retrieved 2011. 
  37. ^ McNutt, Myles (October 27, 2011). "Spooked". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011. 
  38. ^ McNutt, Myles (December 8, 2011). "Christmas Wishes". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011. 
  39. ^ Mader, Jill. "The Office - Episode 8-12 Review - "A Party to Remember"". InsidePulse. Retrieved 2012. 
  40. ^ Tedder, Michael (February 10, 2012). "The Office Recap: Florida Facts". New York. Retrieved 2012. 
  41. ^ Michael Martin, "Why Tituss Burgess Makes Tina Fey Laugh", Out, March 4, 2015.
  42. ^ McHenry, Jackson. "Allison Williams's Face Is the Only Thing That Calms Ellie Kemper's Baby". Vulture. Retrieved . 
  43. ^ Will Lerner, "'Today' Announces Ellie Kemper as New Co-Host", Yahoo TV, June 25, 2015.
  44. ^ O'Hare, Kate (July 12, 2016). "Ellie Kemper of 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Talks Being Catholic With Stephen Colbert". Family Theater Productions. Retrieved 2016. 
  45. ^ Zach Johnson (December 8, 2011). "The Office Star Ellie Kemper Is Engaged!". Us Weekly. Retrieved 2012. 
  46. ^ Lauren Schutte (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 2012. 
  47. ^ Alison Schwartz (July 7, 2012). "Ellie Kemper Is Married!". People. Retrieved 2012. 
  48. ^ Respers, Lisa (2016-08-02). "'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' star Ellie Kemper gives birth". CNN.com. Retrieved . 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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