Biography

Full Name: Kathryn McKinnon Berthold
Date of Birth: January 6, 1984
Place of Birth: Sea Cliff, Long Island
Mother: Laura Campbell
Father: Michael Thomas Berthold
Siblings: Emily Lynne
Years Active: 2007-present

Kathryn McKinnon Berthold was born in Sea Cliff, Long Island on January 6, 1984 to parents Laura Campbell and Michael Thomas Berthold. Her mother is a parent educator and her father was an architect. He passed away in 2002 after a battle with brain cancer. She has a younger sister, Emily Lynne, who is also a comedian and musician.

Kate says she has been doing funny voices since she was 5. She grew up in a funny family, with both of her parents and younger sister also doing funny voices. She and her sister would memorize dialogues from movies and recite it to each other while imitating the voices in the movies. Kate has played various musical instruments since she was a kid. She started playing the piano when she was 5 years old, the cello when she was 12 and taught herself how to play the guitar when she was 15. Her father was a self-taught musician and they took piano classes together. She also credits her father for getting her into watching Saturday Night Live. When she was younger, Kate recorded SNL and watched it back so she could transcribe all the sketches.

Kate graduated from North Shore High School in 2002 and from Columbia University in 2006 with a degree in theater. She played more than 60 characters in various productions as a theater major. At Columbia, Kate co-founded a comedy gróup named Tea Party, which focused on musical improv comedy and she often provided the music from her piano. She starred in three Varsity shows: V109 “Dial D for Deadline”, V110 “Off-Broadway” and V111 “The Sound of Muses”. She was also a member of Prangstgrüp, a student comedy group that staged elaborated pranks and performances.

During her senior year of college in 2006, Kate showed up to an open call casting amongst 300 people for The Big Gay Sketch Show. Eventually, that number went down to 16 and then to the 8 cast members that were chosen. The show started filming while she was still in college and premiered in 2007. Kate was a cast member on the show for all three seasons.

In 2008, Kate began taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. As a part of UCB, she performed on the sketch teams High Treason, Beneath Gristedes, Tremendous Machine, and Gramps, and in the solo shows Disenchanted, Best Actress, and Kate McKinnon on Ice.

Because she was cast in a show straight out of college, she says it gave her a false sense that things would be easy in show business, which she later found out wasn’t true at all: “I learned quickly that that was a major fluke and then didn’t get paid again for a long time.” After The Big Gay Sketch Show ended in 2010, she kept performing her one-woman shows at UCB and starred in web series such as Vag Magazine and This Park is Mine. She also appeared in several short videos and started doing voice work for an animated comedy series, Robotomy.

In 2012, Kate had small parts in movies such as My Best Day and Hannah Has a Ho-Phase. Her big break came when she was cast as a featured player on Saturday Night Live. Before Kate was cast, she said in an interview: “I would kill to be the first gay person on SNL or have a Tracy Ullman-type show. That would be my ultimate dream.” She went on to become the first openly lesbian cast member on SNL, as well as the show’s third known LGBT cast member after Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance.

Kate started on SNL during the last five episodes of Season 37, which is unusual for the show. Her first episode was on April 7, 2012, which was hosted by actress Sofia Vergara. She appeared on her first sketch doing her Penelope Cruz impression, which was one of the things she did during her audition process. Kate stayed as a featured player during Season 38 and was promoted to a full cast member on Season 39.

On SNL, Kate began to gain traction by doing spot-on impressions of Ellen Degeneres and Justin Bieber, as well as for her original characters like Sheila Sovage. She also began appearing as Hillary Clinton leading up to the 2016 presidential election. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2016 and 2017, becoming the first actor from SNL to win the award since 1993.

In 2014, Kate had small parts in Life Partners and Balls Out (which was previously titled Intramural.) The latter was selected for the Tribeca Film Festival and Kate attended the event for the first time. On being in a movie for the first time, she said: “This was my first time – I had done very small parts in other small movies before, but this was my first big chunk of a thing. And I think I caught the bug. I want in.” Kate went on to appear in movies such as Ted 2 and Staten Island Summer, both in 2015.

In 2015, she also co-created, wrote and starred in the web series Notary Publix alongside her sister Emily Lynne. Many of her SNL co-stars appeared in the series such as Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah, and even long-time SNL writer Paula Pell made an appearance. She also appeared in a small role in the film Sisters, written by Paula Pell and starred by SNL alumni, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Kate also made guest appearances on many TV shows such as The Spoils Before Dying (2015), Difficult People (2015), Maya and Marty (2016) and Friends From College (2017).

Kate has also been doing voice work for several animated series such as The Awesomes (2014-2015), China, IL (2015), Moonbeam City (guest appearance – 2015), The Simpsons (guest appearance – 2016), The Venture Bros. (2010-2016), Family Guy (guest appearance – 2015-2016), Nature Cat (2015-2018), and most recently The Magic School Bus Rides Again (2017-2018). She also voiced a character in the short Toy Story of Terror (2013).

Kate’s voice work also includes some film credits: The Angry Birds Movie (2016), Finding Dory (2016), Leap! (2016), and Ferdinand (2017). Her biggest roles were in Leap! and Ferdinand. On the first, she played the voice of three different characters: Regine, Mother Superior, and Felicie’s Mother in the U.S. version of the movie. On the latter, she played the voice of a goat named Lupe, opposite John Cena, who played the main character, the bull Ferdinand.

2016 became a big year for Kate, beginning with the release of Ghostbusters. She stars in the movie alongside Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Leslie Jones. Unfortunately, the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters was not received well by the general public and fans of the original movie. The film got a lot of backlash online and way too many sexist comments from the audience before it was even released. The trailer of the movie was released on March 3, 2016 and it became the most disliked movie trailer on YouTube. There’s one thing many people can agree on though: Kate McKinnon was the breakout star of the movie. No matter what people say about the movie, it’s always followed by the observation that Kate’s character was the best part of the movie. The film also brought a lot of new fans. Many little girls and women came in defense and became huge fans of the movie.

In 2016, there were also the releases of Masterminds and Office Christmas Party. Kate has a small part in Masterminds, playing Jandice, the girlfriend of Zach Galifianakis’ character. The movie was based on one of the biggest bank heists in American history: the October 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery. The end of the year saw the release of Office Christmas Party, in which Kate plays the character Mary, the head of Human Resources. The film stars an ensemble cast, including Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T. J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, and Jennifer Aniston.

In 2017, Kate starred in the movie Rough Night alongside Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell, and Ilana Glazer. The film follows a bachelorette party that goes wrong after a male stripper dies. Meanwhile, Kate kept doing political impersonations on SNL, following the 2016 presidential election, including different men from Trump’s administration such as Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani.

In 2018, Kate had two small roles in films such as Netflix’s Irreplaceable You, where she played a woman with cancer that was super positive. She also played the character Jill in Taylor Schilling’s Family. The movie was first released during the SXSW Festival and it was only released in theaters the following year, on April 2019.

2018 also saw Kate in a big role opposite Mila Kunis in The Spy Who Dumped Me. They play two best friends, Morgan and Audrey, who get caught up in an international conspiracy when Audrey (Mila’s character) discovers that the boyfriend who dumped her was actually a spy.

In 2019, Kate released yet another voice project, Heads Will Roll. The scripted audio comedy series was created and written by Kate and her sister Emily Lynne. Kate describes the show as “It’s like Veep meets Games of Thrones. I play an evil Queen who has some PR nightmares. It’s like this big, fun, fantasy comedy audio series. It’s not a podcast, it’s a sitcom for the ear.” It has appearances from big names such as Tim Gunn, Meryl Streep, the Queer Eye guys, Peter Dinklage, Carol Kane and SNL stars Aidy Bryant, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffat, and Chris Redd.

Also in 2019, Kate appeared in small roles in two feature films. The first one is Yesterday, released during the summer. It tells the story of a struggling musician that realizes he is the only person who can remember The Beatles. Kate plays the talent agent Debra Hammer. The second movie is Bombshell, where Kate plays Jess Carr, a Fox News producer. The movie tells the real-life story of Fox News boss Roger Ailes and the toxic male culture he presided over at the network. It is set to be released in December.

Kate is currently developing a new tv show for Hulu, The Dropout, based on the podcast of the same name. The series will follow the real-life story of Elizabeth Holmes (which Kate will be playing), the founder of the company Theranos and how everything went downhill after she was accused of fraud.

In November 2019, it was announced that Kate will be starring in yet another podcast adaptation for the small screen. It will be based on the true-crime podcast Joe Exotic. The series revolves around what happens when big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin (McKinnon) learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit, she sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a quickly escalating rivalry. But Carole has a checkered past of her own, and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose her hypocrisy. The show is currently under production and a network hasn’t been attached to the project yet.


Biography written by Adoring Kate McKinnon. Last updated on November 19, 2019.