Ellie Kemper is the latest guest judge on AGT Judge Cuts this season. The actress follows Brad Paisley and Dwyane Wade, who appeared on the show in the previous two Judge Cuts episodes. Ellie will hit the Golden Buzzer for one of the returning acts tonight.
While we wait to find out which act will catch Ellie’s attention, let’s learn a little bit more about the judge herself. We’ve put together 10 facts you might not have known about the TV star, from her personal life to her career highlights.
1. Jon Hamm was her high school teacher.
The Mad Men star taught Ellie acting at her St. Louis high school. She told A.V. Club, “In a room full of freshmen girls—he was definitely just as handsome back then, and having this grown, tall man teach you theater, it was like having a hunk in the class.”
In 2015, Jon and Ellie reunited on Today, and the actor complimented Ellie as a great student, saying “the proof is in the pudding,” if you look at her career.
2. She graduated from Princeton.
Ellie got a degree in English from Princeton University in 2002. While there, she was a member of the school’s improv group, Quipfire, and also played field hockey. Later, she pursued a graduate degree at Oxford University.
Earlier this year, Ellie returned to Princeton to deliver a Class Day speech to the graduating class of 2019. She told students that “trying to be a kind, thoughtful, hardworking person will ultimately make you much happier than trying to be an impressive person.”
3. She performed with Upright Citizens Brigade.
Like so many other famous funny people, Ellie performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. She had a one-woman show called “Feeling Sad/Mad,” and also performed improv and appeared in sketches.
4. Ellie made a name for herself on The Office.
You might recognize Ellie for her role as Erin Hannon, a cheerful receptionist on the American version of The Office. Ellie joined the show in Season 5 and stayed on as a cast member until the series finale.
5. She’s been nominated for two Emmys.
Ellie played another character with a positive outlook on the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Her performance on the show earned her two Primetime Emmy nominations for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
6. She’s appeared in several popular movies.
If you don’t recognize her from The Office or Kimmy Schmidt, you might remember Ellie from her role in the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids. She’s also appeared in 21 Jump Street and Identity Thief.
If those don’t ring a bell, maybe you recognize her voice. Ellie has had voice roles in movies like The Secret Life of Pets, The Lego Batman Movie, and Smurfs: The Lost Village.
7. Ellie has guest hosted TV shows.
Before Ellie Kemper was a guest judge on AGT, Ellie was a guest host on shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Today. In 2018, she and her Kimmy Schmidt co-star Jane Krakowski filled in as co-hosts with Hoda Kotb. And in 2014, when Ellen was sick, she got Ellie to fill her shoes for the day.
8. Ellie Kemper wrote a book.
In 2018, Ellie published an autobiographical book called My Squirrel Days. It includes various essays about her life. The title comes from her childhood attempts to make friends with squirrels, inspired by Dances With Wolves.
“The squirrel had no interest in being my friend and I realized that when I fell off a tree and the squirrel laughed at me,” she told GMA.
9. She’s currently expecting her second child.
Ellie announced in June of this year that she’s pregnant with her second child with husband Michael Koman. She gave birth to her first child, a son named James, in 2016.
The Judge Cuts episodes of AGT filmed in April, so we may not see much of a baby bump, although Ellie does look to be wearing a loose-fitting dress — perhaps to hide her belly before she made the announcement.
10. Ellie is the kind of judge you want to have a beer with.
At least, that’s how Ellie described herself in a video from AGT about her appearance on the show. Gabrielle Union predicted she’ll be “fierce, funny, and fabulous,” while Howie Mandel said he thinks she’ll be “honest.”
Ellie also explained what she’s looking for in a Golden Buzzer act. She said she wants to see an act “that will wow the crowd, that will wow me, and will move me emotionally.”