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Ellie Kemper: Talented Actress and Hilarious Comedian
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Ellie Kemper, born Elizabeth Claire Kemper on May 2, 1980, in Kansas City, Missouri, is an American actress, comedian, and writer. She is best known for her roles as Erin Hannon on the NBC series The Office and Kimmy Schmidt in the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, earning critical acclaim and multiple award nominations for her performances.

Early Life and Education

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en.wikipedia.org
Ellie Kemper was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Dorothy Ann and David Woods Kemper, a prominent banking executive. She is the second of four siblings and has a diverse ancestry, including Italian, German, English, and French roots. Raised in a wealthy family, Kemper moved to St. Louis at the age of five, where she attended Conway Elementary School and later John Burroughs School. At John Burroughs, she developed a passion for theater and improvisational comedy, influenced by her drama teacher, actor Jon Hamm. Kemper graduated from Princeton University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, where she was active in the improv comedy troupe Quipfire and the Princeton Triangle Club. She also spent a year studying English literature at Worcester College, Oxford.
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The Early Years: Ellie Kemper's Journey Through Improvisational Comedy

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Ellie Kemper's early comedic career was deeply rooted in improvisational comedy. At Princeton University, she was actively involved in Quipfire!, the university's oldest improv comedy group, and the Princeton Triangle Club, a touring musical comedy theater troupe. After moving to New York City, she joined the Upright Citizens Brigade, performing in several shows such as "Death and/or Despair" and "The Improvised Mystery". Kemper also performed with the house improv teams Mailer Daemon and fwand at the UCB, and Big Black Car at the People's Improv Theatre. Kemper's early work included writing and performing in sketch comedy shows, often collaborating with her comedy partner Scott Eckert. She contributed to "The Onion" and "McSweeney's" and appeared in comedy sketches on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "Important Things with Demetri Martin". In 2007, she gained internet fame for her role in the humor video "Blowjob Girl" on Derrick Comedy, although she later expressed regret over the video. In 2008, Kemper auditioned for "Saturday Night Live" but was not cast. However, she was named one of Variety magazine's "10 Comics To Watch" in 2009. Her breakout role came when she was cast as Erin Hannon in "The Office," initially intended for just four episodes. Her performance impressed the producers, leading to her becoming a regular cast member by the sixth season. This role significantly boosted her career, opening doors to further opportunities in both television and film.
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Breakthrough Role in 'The Office'

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Ellie Kemper's breakthrough role came in 2009 when she joined the cast of the NBC sitcom The Office as Erin Hannon, the new receptionist at Dunder Mifflin. Initially intended for just four episodes, her character quickly became a fan favorite due to Kemper's portrayal of Erin's cheerful and quirky personality. The producers were so impressed with her performance that they extended her role, making her a regular cast member by the sixth season. Kemper's character, Erin, was introduced as a replacement for Pam Beesly, who had moved to a different position within the company. Erin's upbeat and somewhat naive demeanor provided a fresh dynamic to the office environment, contrasting with the more cynical and jaded characters. Critics praised Kemper's "infectious joy and sweetness," with some describing Erin as one of the best new television characters of the 2008–2009 season. Her performance was highlighted as a standout, especially in the show's later seasons following Steve Carell's departure. During her time on The Office, Kemper also appeared in webisodes like Subtle Sexuality, where Erin and Kelly Kapoor (played by Mindy Kaling) attempt to start a girl group. This role not only solidified Kemper's place in the comedy world but also opened doors for future opportunities in television and film, setting the stage for her subsequent success in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and other projects.
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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: A Career-Defining Role

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Ellie Kemper's portrayal of Kimmy Schmidt in the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt marked a pivotal moment in her career. Premiering in 2015, the show follows Kimmy, a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult after 15 years and starts a new life in New York City. Kemper's performance as the eternally optimistic and resilient Kimmy earned widespread acclaim, showcasing her comedic talent and depth as an actress. The series, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, ran for four seasons and concluded with an interactive special, Kimmy vs. The Reverend, which provided a satisfying closure to Kimmy's journey and highlighted her growth from a naive survivor to an empowered individual.
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Recent Work: Happiness for Beginners

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In 2023, Ellie Kemper took on a new challenge by starring in the Netflix film Happiness for Beginners. In this romantic comedy, she portrays Helen, a recently divorced woman who decides to reset her life by enrolling in a backcountry survival course on the Appalachian Trail. This role allowed Kemper to step away from her usual cheerful characters and delve into a more nuanced and cranky persona. The film, directed by Vicky Wight and based on Katherine Center's 2015 novel, features Helen navigating the wilderness and her emotions, ultimately finding love and self-discovery with the help of a quirky group of fellow hikers, including a handsome newcomer, Jake, played by Luke Grimes. The movie was filmed in Connecticut and released on Netflix on July 21, 2023. It received mixed reviews, with some critics praising the chemistry between the leads and the comedic performances of the supporting cast, while others found the film uneven and stilted. Despite the varied reception, Kemper's performance was noted for its endearing self-protectiveness and depth, marking a significant departure from her previous roles.
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Awards and Nominations

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Ellie Kemper has received numerous awards and nominations throughout her career, reflecting her talent and versatility as an actress. Here is a summary of her most notable recognitions:
  • Primetime Emmy Awards
    • 2017: Nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2016: Nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards
    • 2017: Nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2016: Nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2013: Nominee for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for The Office
    • 2012: Nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for Bridesmaids
    • 2012: Nominee for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for The Office
  • Critics' Choice Television Awards
    • 2018: Nominee for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2016: Nominee for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Satellite Awards
    • 2019: Nominee for Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2018: Nominee for Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    • 2017: Nominee for Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • MTV Movie + TV Awards
    • 2012: Winner for Best Gut-Wrenching Performance in Bridesmaids (shared with cast)
  • Gracie Allen Awards
    • 2016: Winner for Outstanding Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy or Musical for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Webby Awards
    • 2015: Winner for Best Actress for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
These accolades highlight Kemper's impact in the comedy genre and her ability to captivate audiences with her performances.
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Kemper's Filmography Highlights

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Ellie Kemper has had a diverse and successful career in both television and film. Below is a summary of her notable works:
YearTitleRole
2009Mystery TeamJamie
2009Cayman WentGirl in Bar
2010Get Him to the GreekPinnacle Executive
2010SomewhereClaire
2011BridesmaidsBecca
201221 Jump StreetMs. Griggs
2013Identity ThiefFlo (Uncredited)
2014LaggiesAllison
2014Sex TapeTess
2014They Came TogetherKaren
2016The Secret Life of PetsKatie (Voice)
2017The Lego Batman MoviePhyllis (Voice)
2017Smurfs: The Lost VillageSmurf Blossom (Voice)
2019The Secret Life of Pets 2Katie (Voice)
2020We Bare Bears: The MovieLucy (Voice)
2020The Stand InJenna Jones
2021Home Sweet Home AlonePam McKenzie
2023Happiness for BeginnersHelen
Kemper's roles span a variety of genres, showcasing her versatility as an actress.
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Personal Life and Family

Ellie Kemper married comedy writer Michael Koman on July 7, 2012. The couple has two sons, James Miller Koman, born in August 2016, and Matthew Koman, born in September 2019. Koman, known for his work on shows like Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Nathan for You, shares a deep passion for comedy with Kemper, which has been a cornerstone of their relationship. Kemper remains a practicing Roman Catholic and often speaks about the significant influence her family has had on her career and personal values.
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Closing Thoughts

Ellie Kemper stands out as a prominent figure among American comedy writers and 21st-century American comedians. Her work spans various mediums, from television and film to writing and improvisational comedy. Kemper's unique blend of infectious joy and nuanced performances has earned her critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. As a woman in comedy, she has broken barriers and set new standards, contributing significantly to the evolving landscape of American humor. Her roles in The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have solidified her status as a versatile and influential comedian, making her a key player in the comedy world today
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