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Who Is Maya Rudolph?
Maya Rudolph is an actress and comedian who first put her interest in acting to work with the Groundlings and landed a few small roles in TV and in film. When a producer for Saturday Night Live saw her perform with the acting troupe, Rudolph was brought to New York and joined the SNL cast in 2000. On SNL, she became a featured player known for impersonations of such celebrities as Christina Aguilera, Oprah Winfrey and Donatella Versace. She stayed with the show until 2007, appearing in several films both during and after SNL.
Early Years and Parents
Maya Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Florida, on July 27, 1972, to father, Richard, a music writer and producer and mother Minnie Riperton, a singer who hit the top of the pop charts in 1974 with “Lovin’ You.” After moving from Gainesville to Southern California, when Rudolph was almost seven, her mother died of breast cancer. Shortly after, Rudolph began singing and appearing in local theater, which she did throughout childhood. After high school, she enrolled in the photography program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she formed the band Super Sauce. Super Sauce wouldn’t be Rudolph’s last band, as she went on to play keyboards for The Rentals, a Weezer spin-off band, in the mid-1990s.
Movies and TV Shows
‘Saturday Night Live’
Rudolph’s career took a major turn when a Saturday Night Live producer saw her performing with the Groundlings in late 1999. She soon auditioned for the show in New York and joined the cast in 2000 as a featured performer. Rudolph brought to the table a unique blend of acting and musicality, always mixed with a madcap comedic streak, and this range led to a promotion to full cast member in late 2001. She developed a true following on the show through the often outrageous characters she would create or, more often, the real-life characters she would impersonate. Her over-the-top but somehow dead-on impersonations of such celebrities as Donatella Versace, Oprah Winfrey and Christina Aguilera made her one of the stars of the show, and her comedic skills led not only to a larger part on the show but to more and more non-SNL roles.
’50 First Dates’ and ‘A Prairie Home Companion’
Before her SNL tenure even began, Rudolph was appearing in films, and her work on the big screen continued after she joined the cast in such films as the comedy Chuck and Buck and the musically oriented Duets (both in 2000), that latter of which allowed her to work with childhood friend Gwyneth Paltrow. She followed these with a few more projects, notably a recurring role on TV’s City of Angels (2000) and in the romantic comedy 50 First Dates (2004), with Adam Sandler.
In 2005, Rudolph took a break, going on maternity leave, her pregnancy now a part of film history as it was captured via her role in the ensemble of Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion (2006).
‘Shrek the Third’
Upon her return, Rudolph kept busy with Saturday Night Live and with several film projects. She scored a leading role in the quirky independent film Idiocracy in 2006, and the following year Rudolph lent her vocal skills to the animated hit Shrek the Third, the same year she brought her SNL tenure to a close (marking her final season with an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series).
‘Grown-Ups’ and ‘Bridesmaids’
Once off the SNL set for good, Rudolph appeared on the NBC version of the Australian hit show Kath & Kim and took the lead in the thoughtful independent film Away We Go in 2009. She also reprised her voiceover role in Shrek Forever After (2010), the fourth installment in the Shrek franchise, and appeared in several high-profile comedies, including Grown-Ups (2010), The Zookeeper (2011) and the international smash hit Bridesmaids (2011).
Rudolph invested time on the small screen to be cast as a lead in NBC’s Up All Night (2011-2012) before starring in other notable films like Inherent Vice (2014), Maggie’s Plan (2015), Sisters (2015) and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016).
Besides her contribution to the Shrek franchise, Rudolph has been recently lent her voice to a variety of other animated films like The Angry Birds Movie (2016), The Emoji Movie (2017) and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017). On television, she plays Aunt Cass on the superhero comedy animation Big Hero 6: The Series (2017-present). Rudolph also voices characters on the shows Big Mouth and Bless the Harts.
Husband and Kids
Rudolph has been with director Paul Thomas Anderson since 2001. Their first daughter, Pearl Minnie, was born in October 2005, and Lucille and Jack followed in 2009 and 2011, respectively. In 2013, the couple welcomed daughter, Minnie Ida.
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