Ellie Kemper was born on May 2, 1980 in St. Louis, MO. The future star attended Princeton University, where she was a member of the renowned improv comedy group, Quipfire; the musical theater troupe the Princeton Triangle Club; and the field hockey team. Kemper graduated from Princeton in 2002 with an English degree, and continued studying her field for a year at the University of Oxford. Kemper made a leap into an acting career by appearing on sketches of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-2009) and "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, 2005- ). She also wrote sketch comedy shows with fellow comic and Princeton graduate Scott Eckert, contributed to the national satirical publication, The Onion, and had her essays published in McSweeney's Literary Journal.
While living in New York City, Kemper made a name for herself in the improv comedy circuit, appearing on stage with the People's Improv Theater and the Upright Citizens Brigade. She created further buzz in 2008 with her two one-woman shows, "Dumb Girls" and "Feeling Sad/Mad with Ellie Kemper," as well as the viral video hit, "Blowjob," where she pretended to perform oral sex on her boyfriend, only to tell him she was going to bite off his genitals. The hilarious and squirm-inducing clip received millions of hits on YouTube and CollegeHumor.com. In August 2008, the actress auditioned to be a featured player on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), but was turned down. Kemper told Variety that her "SNL" audition consisted of her portraying outrageous characters, but she was more comfortable playing humorous versions of herself.
Even though she did not land a cast member spot on "SNL," Kemper's career took off in 2009 after she was cast on NBC's primetime comedy hit, "The Office." The actress was a huge fan of the show and was thrilled when she scored the part of Erin Hannon, the sweet-natured receptionist for the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Kemper had big shoes to fill as she was brought in to replace former receptionist and fan favorite Pam (Jenna Fischer) during the fifth season. No one was more excited to play Erin than Kemper herself, who emailed her mom, "I'm at Pam's desk right now!" during one of her first days of filming. Her character shared Pam's friendly demeanor, but was a little more naive when it came to the company's offbeat dynamics. Critics loved Kemper's performance on "The Office," praising the actress for her cheerful appeal and for adding freshness to the long-running series. Fans also welcomed Kemper with open arms, even calling her office romance with Dunder Mifflin's pompous salesman Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) as "the new Jim and Pam" - the show's central love story since the show's beginnings. In March 2010, over seven million viewers tuned in to for the episode titled "New Leads" to witness the first kiss between Erin and Andy. That same year, Kemper acted opposite Jonah Hill and Russell Brand in the comedy feature, "Get Him to the Greek." She also appeared in the comedy/drama "Somewhere," a film written and directed by Sofia Coppola.
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