Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon is featured in the July 2017 issue of ELLE.
In six seasons on Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon has established herself as a comedic force: an Emmy-winning, character-creating powerhouse who instills every Hillary, RBG, Ellen, Justin—and even Kellyanne—with both hilarity and heart. A year after her wonderfully wacky performance in Ghostbusters, the Long Island native and Columbia grad is solidifying her movie-star stripes opposite Scarlett Johansson (and Zoë Kravitz! And Ilana Glazer! And Jillian Bell!) in this summer’s insanely funny bachelorette-party comedy, Rough Night. On the occasion of her second ELLE cover, McKinnon, 33, spoke with SNL superalum Tina Fey about career idols, Leslie Jones, and the j-word (okay, fine, we’ll tell you: It’s joy).
Here, an excerpt of her interview with Fey:
Tina Fey: Let’s talk about political characters, Kate! How extensively do you follow politics in real life?
Kate McKinnon: I wasn’t a newspaper person until I got hired here. You have to get ideas from somewhere, and when the election began, I began reading [the New York Times]. Now it’s an everyday thing. When we’re off, I try not to do it as much because you want to have a moment of joy.
Tina Fey: It’s kind of stressful and all-consuming. When you play a person like Kellyanne Conway, what are the advantages of building a character off that person, as opposed to a common character?
Kate McKinnon: It’s much easier for me to do an impression of someone real, because you and the audience begin with a baseline understanding of this person’s life. And then if you subvert that in any way, it’s a little comedy surprise. That does the bulk of the work for you.
SNL returns with new episodes this Fall on NBC.
Photography: Paola Kudacki / Styling: Samira Nasr