Today’s Birthday, July 27: US comedian and actress Maya Rudolph (1972-)
Ever since her big break on Saturday Night Live 20 years ago, Maya Rudolph has kept audiences laughing.
Born in Gainsville, Florida, in 1972 to soul singer Minnie Riberton and music producer Richard Rudolph, she grew up in sunny Santa Monica, California.
At high school she met lifetime friend and fellow actress Gwyneth Paltrow and their families also became close.
Rudolph graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in photography, from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1995.
Soon after she joined alternative rock band The Rentals, fronted by Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, as a backing singer and keyboardist.
Next up was comedy – and about four years at The Groundlings, a school for improvisation and comedy writing in Los Angeles.
Rudolph made the big time in 2000 when she joined the cast of late-night TV comedy series Saturday Night Live.
It was a dream achievement after she had watched SNL as a child and idolised SNL trailblazer Gilda Radner.
Rudolph’s most famous sketches included her impressions of Donatella Versace, Christina Aguilera, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles.
After cementing herself as a versatile performer of many accents and looks as well as an audience favourite, Rudolph left to pursue a film acting career.
Her last show as a full-time cast member aired on November 3, 2007, but she has returned for guest appearances and in 2012 hosted the show.
After SNL, she made a handful of guest appearances on the US version of Australian TV comedy Kath and Kim, voiced Rapunzel in Shrek 3 (2007) and starred in Away We Go (2009).
In 2011 she joined fellow SNL graduate and good friend Kristen Wiig in the international hit comedy, Bridesmaids.
She also lent her voice to Disney film Big Hero 6 (2014) and The Angry Birds Movie (2016, 2019), co-hosted her won variety series Maya & Marty (2016) and won awards for her portrayal of The Judge in cult favourite and critics’ darling The Good Place.
Rudolph has four children with her partner, film director Paul Thomas Anderson.