Ellie Kemper Speaks on Experience in Hollywood


CAB President Kathryn Teaney, GSB ’19, interviewed Ellie Kemper at the speaker event. (Colette Nolan/ The Fordham Ram)

By Eliot Schiaparelli and Sarah Huffman

Ellie Kemper spoke to Fordham students as CAB’s Spring Weekend 2019 speaker on Thursday, April 25. Kemper is known for her roles in various movies and TV shows, especially “The Office” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

Kathryn Teaney, GSB ’19, CAB President, hosted a Q&A with Kemper and interviewed her about her life. As a slight change from last year’s speaker event with Josh Peck students were invited to submit questions prior to the event rather than asking them live. The interview included student submitted questions in addition to the ones CAB had prepared.

Kemper talked about her childhood and high school experience as well as her time attending Princeton University. She said she got into comedy by doing improv there. She talked about her experience with “The Office,” “Bridesmaids” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.

Kemper told the crowd her favorite episode of “The Office” was “Secretary’s Day.” She also elaborated about what it was like to work with actors such as Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. She said it is important to have good, down-to-earth role models that keep you grounded.

Kemper also talked a little bit about her personal life including her husband and 2-year-old son. According to Brianna Wagner, FCRH ’21, her answers were well thought out and intelligent.

“I think Thursday was honestly my favorite day of Spring Weekend,” said Wagner. “Ellie Kemper was such a good pick because “The Office” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” are more current and really popular right now. I also appreciated how funny she was while also sounding incredibly smart.”

Kemper said her experience working on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was very different from her experience on “The Office” because it was more scripted and less improvisational.

She told funny stories from the sets of her different projects and some stories from her everyday life in New York. Teaney also did a lightning round of “get to know you” type questions with Kemper.

Emma Paolini, FCRH ’21, said there was not as much audience interaction this year because there was no audience question and answer, but it gave the speaker more time to talk about what she was interested in.

The event was held at Leonard Prep Theater and drew a crowd that filled the entire bottom section and some of the top section of the auditorium.

At the end, CAB tossed out T shirts like they do at the end of all their spring weekend events and played the song “Shallow,” which Kemper said was her go-to karaoke song.

Abby Rizzo, FCRH ’21, is one of the co-chairs of CAB’s Speaker series. She said she and the other co-chair, Maxson Thomas, FCRH ’19, could not be happier with how the event went.

“Ellie truly could not have been nicer to the two of us and the entire executive board,” said Rizzo. “She was very gracious and made sure to make all of us feel so special. I think Ellie was so open and honest and I think it made for a great moderated discussion.”

She also told The Ram that her sister Maddie Rizzo FCRH ’20 made a picture for Kemper the night before the event. Kemper put the photo on Instagram and expressed what a great time she had at Fordham.

Rizzo will co-chair the speaker series again next year.

“From the feedback we received it seemed like we made the right choice by going with Ellie,” said Rizzo. “I can’t wait to see what’s to come next Spring Weekend.”

Kathryn Murphy, FCRH ‘21, said she really enjoyed the event because it was interesting to have a celebrity who she loves share her experience in the acting world.

“I got to hear her favorite parts about working on shows that I know and love. She was very personable and easy to listen to,” said Murphy. “She did not talk down to us as if we were less than her. It was a very fun conversation.”

Paolini said it was rough waiting outside in the rain, but worth it to see Ellie Kemper speak.

“I enjoyed the speaker event last year and I’m a big fan of Ellie Kemper,” she said. “I was interested in learning more about her and hearing stories about her different projects and the people she worked with on them.”