Maya Khabira Rudolph (born 1972) is an American actress and comedian best known for her many roles on Saturday Night Live
. Her mother, Minnie Riperton (the same one known for the song "Loving You"), was a soul singer, and her father, Richard Rudolph, was a music producer, so Maya practically grew up in the studio.
Her mother died of breast cancer when Maya was very young, so Maya's godmother was rhythm-and-blues singer Teena Marie. In the 1990s, Maya was the backing singer and occasional keyboardist for rock band The Rentals, appeared in a few films and TV shows, such as As Good As It Gets
, and was a member of Improv
comedy troupe The Groundlings.
Maya Rudolph's big break came in 2000, when she joined Saturday Night Live
, becoming the first half-black, half-white cast member, the fourth black female cast member (after Yvonne Hudson from season six, Danitra Vance from season eleven, and Ellen Cleghorne from season 17), and the first black female cast member to actually be popular (Hudson was a background player, Vance was a decent performer but was often relegated to stereotypical roles, and Ellen Cleghorne did attain some popularity on SNL
, but she was overshadowed by the male cast members and has not done anything of note after her tenure on the show). From 2000 to 2007, she did many celebrity impressions (most famously Donatella "GETHOOOOOOOOOOUT
" Versace), original characters, and even sang. Her Ambiguously Brown
appearance and vocal talents made her a chameleon, as she played real and fictional characters of every race and ethnicity — and sometimes, she even played men (such as Scott Joplin and Lorne Michaels
Rudolph was planning on leaving the show after the 32nd season (2006-2007), but stayed on without a contract for the 33rd season (2007-2008). Unfortunately, it was only for the first four episodes. When Saturday Night Live
was put on hiatus due to the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Rudolph quietly left the show and was replaced with Casey Wilson
when the strike ended and production continued. Rudolph did come back to cameo a few episodes and even host (season 37; February 18, 2012; musical guest: Sleigh Bells), becoming one in a handful of former female cast members to come back and host (joining Julia Louis-Dreyfus
, Amy Poehler
, Tina Fey
, Molly Shannon, and, later, Rudolph's Bridesmaids
co-star, Kristen Wiig).
, Maya Rudolph has appeared in several movies and TV shows, such as Bridesmaids
, where she was joined by fellow SNL
comedian Kristen Wiig. In 2011, she began starring alongside Christina Applegate and Will Arnett in the sitcom Up All Night
. Maya lives with film director Paul Thomas Anderson
and their four children.
SNL celebrity impersonations (selected)