/American actor

American actor

American actor and comedian

Kenan Thompson (; born May 10, 1978)[1] is an American actor and comedian. He has been a cast member of the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live since 2003, making him the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history.[2]

Thompson began his acting career in the early 1990s, and earned fame as an original cast member of Nickelodeon‘s sketch comedy series All That. In this time, he often collaborated with All That costar Kel Mitchell. In 1996, they began starring in their own sitcom Kenan & Kel (1996–2000). Thompson is also known for his roles in The Mighty Ducks franchise, Good Burger, and the title character in the 2004 film Fat Albert.

He has received a Primetime Emmy Award from three nominations for his work on SNL,[3] and is ranked at #88 on VH1‘s 100 Greatest Teen Stars.

Early life[edit]

Thompson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Fletcher and Elizabeth Ann Thompson. He has two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. Thompson’s mother enrolled him in acting classes at age 5 and his first role as Toto in a church production of The Wiz had no lines.[2] He continued acting throughout his youth, appearing in the school plays such as The Gingerbread Duck.[4] He auditioned for a theatre company The Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA).[5] As a child he was a fan of The Price Is Right which he referred to as “my first love” and “very joyful viewing,” which had an effect on his future acting style.[6]

Early career[edit]

One of his earliest roles was as an entertainment reporter for CNN‘s “Real News for Kids,”[7] and he would go on to star in All That with such characters as Principal Pimpell, Miss Piddlin, Pierre Escargot, and Superdude. He starred as Kenan Rockmore on Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel.[7] While Kenan attended Tri-Cities High School, a Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School in East Point, Georgia, he began filming his first movie, D2: The Mighty Ducks.

Later career[edit]

Kenan has starred in several films including Good Burger, based on the All That sketch of the same title, and Fat Albert, in which he played the title character. He has also had supporting roles in the movies Heavyweights, D2: The Mighty Ducks, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, My Boss’s Daughter, and Snakes on a Plane. Thompson had a recurring role on The Steve Harvey Show as Junior, with co-star Kel Mitchell.

In 2009, Thompson was a regular voice actor in the Fox cartoon series Sit Down, Shut Up, portraying Sue Sezno, who, as evinced by her last name, always says no.[8] The series premiered on April 19, 2009,[8] but was canceled after only four episodes due to low ratings and less than favorable reviews. Thompson provided the voice for the LeBron James puppet in Nike’s MVP “Most Valuable Puppets” commercials, which were produced to be shown throughout the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Thompson also guest starred on the USA Network series Psych in the fourth season episode “High Top Fade Out”. He played an estranged college singing buddy of the character Gus. In 2011, he returned to Nickelodeon, as he guest starred in “iParty With Victorious“, a crossover episode of TV sitcoms iCarly and Victorious.

Thompson appeared as a host of sorts of TeenNick‘s 1990s programming block, The ’90s Are All That, appearing in many of the block’s early bumpers and hyping material. He would return to the block, now called NickRewind but at the time called The Splat, for All Thats 22nd anniversary, with segments filmed at the 2015 New York Comic-Con.[9]

Thompson waving

Thompson at a hockey game, in front of the
Stanley Cup in 2018

In 2015, Fandango announced that Thompson would play their brand character, fictional character Miles Mouvay. Thompson would play Mouvay in 18 videos, eight 30-second commercials, and a few comedic skits.[10]

On September 23, 2015, Thompson appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon alongside former All That co-star Kel Mitchell in which they reprised their popular Good Burger roles as “Ed” and “Lester Oakes, Construction Worker”. They later competed against one another in an episode of the revived Nickelodeon game show Double Dare that aired in November 2018.[11]

In 2019, Thompson served as a judge for NBC’s comedy competition series Bring the Funny.[12] He also became an executive producer with Mitchell for Nickelodeon’s All That revival, premiering in June.[13] In May 2019 NBC announced they had picked up Thompson’s single-camera comedy The Kenan Show to series. The series will premiere in 2020 and feature Thompson as a newly widowed father determined to be a “super dad.”[14]

In 2020, he became the spokesman for Universal Parks & Resorts’ “Let Yourself Woah” campaign,[15] and was set to host the 2020 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.[16]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Thompson speaking into a microphone

Thompson interviewed in 2019

Thompson returned to sketch comedy when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003,[17]. According to Thompson he had previously sent an audition tape to SNL multiple times with them claiming he looked too young, with him noting “it was a couple years’ worth of that” [6] A fan of the show before joining, Thompson noted that he feared that being on the show was a “disservice” to it stating “It was weird for me for a long time” [6] Thompson was a featured player until 2005 (spanning the 29th and 30th seasons) and was promoted to repertory player at the beginning of season 31 (the 2005–2006 season).

In 2013, he refused to play any more black women on the show and demanded SNL hire black women instead.[18][19]

Thompson has been a cast member on SNL for 17 seasons, breaking the record for the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history previously held by Darrell Hammond, who was on the show for 14 seasons. Thompson became the most senior cast member in the second half of the 2013–14 season, following the departure of Seth Meyers. He is also the longest-serving African-American cast member, surpassing Tim Meadows, who stayed on the show for ten seasons, and is also the oldest current cast member.[20] Thompson also holds the record for most celebrity impressions performed on the show, performing 139, beating Hammond’s previous record of 107.[21] Although early on he planned to stay on the show until something else came along, by 2019 he noted that SNL was his “Forever plan.” [22][23]

In 2014 head writer for SNL, Brian H. Tucker noted that simply putting “KENAN REACTS” would get a script more laughs, further elaborating “Put him in your sketch somewhere, anywhere, and your sketch will get better. Because Kenan knows how to take ordinary lines and make them funny, and take funny lines and make them special.” [24] Similarly, Lorne Michaels in a 2019 article would refer to Thompson as “the person I most rely on in the cast.” [23]Vulture referred to him as the “heir apparent” to Phil Hartman, both being “the glue” of their respective casts.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Thompson married model Christina Evangeline on November 11, 2011.[26] Together, they have two daughters, Georgia, born June 20, 2014,[27][28] and Gianna, born August 2, 2018.[29]


Kenan Thompson albums
Year Title Notes
2004 Good Times Comedy album


  1. ^ “Kenan Thompson”. TV Guide. Archived from the original on July 27, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Izadi, Elahe. “The quiet brilliance of Kenan Thompson, SNL’s longest-tenured cast member”. Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  3. ^ “Kenan Thompson”. emmy.com. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  4. ^ “Kenan Thompson Biography – Yahoo! Movies”.
  5. ^ Tuck, Angela (August 5, 2015). “For 25 years, group for young Atlanta performers has mixed art, issues”. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Collings, Austin. “Kenan Thompson’s 17-Year Itch”. Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  7. ^ a b “Kenan Thompson Biography (1978–)”. Filmreference.com. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  8. ^ a b “Sit Down, Shut Up”. Fox. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  9. ^ Harnick, Chris (March 23, 2016). “An All That Reunion Is Coming to The Splat—This Is Vital Information for Your Everyday Life”. E! Online. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  10. ^ “Fandango To Launch Brand Personality Series Starring Kenan Thompson”. Tubefilter. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  11. ^ Lawrence, Derek (June 25, 2018). “Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell reuniting to compete on special episode of Double Dare”. Entertainment Weekly.
  12. ^ Otterson, Joe (February 1, 2019). “NBC Orders Comedy Competition Series With Jeff Foxworthy Among Judges”. Variety.
  13. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (February 14, 2019). All That Revival Ordered at Nick, With Kenan Thompson On Board as EP”. TVLine.
  14. ^ White, Peter (May 12, 2019). “Kenan Thompson To Remain On ‘SNL’ As NBC Figures Out ‘Scheduling Issues’ For ‘The Kenan Show. Deadline. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Dugan, Christina (February 14, 2020). “Kenan Thompson Returns to All That Roots (and Universal Studios) for First Time in 20 Years: ‘It Holds a Place In My Heart. People. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  16. ^ Steinberg, Brian (February 18, 2020). “White House Correspondents Dinner Returns to Comedy With Kenan Thompson, Hasan Minhaj”. Variety. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  17. ^ Levin, Gary. “Kenan Thompson gets an NBC sitcom, but will stay on ‘SNL,’ too”. USA Today. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  18. ^ Weisman, Aly. SNL’s’ Kenan Thompson Refuses To Dress In Drag Until The Show Hires A Black Woman”. Business Insider. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  19. ^ Nast, Condé. “16 Times Women Changed the Game on ‘Saturday Night Live. Glamour. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  20. ^ “Fred Armisen Is Leaving ‘SNL’ Too, Jason Sudeikis “Probably. May 16, 2013.
  21. ^ “Saturday Night Live – Kenan Thompson” SNLarchives.net. Web. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Hiatt, Brian. “How Kenan Thompson Became The Ultimate ‘SNL’ Survivor”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Izadi, Elahe. “The quiet brilliance of Kenan Thompson”. Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  24. ^ Tucker, Bryan. “Why Saturday Night Live Writers Lean on Kenan Thompson”. Slate. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  25. ^ Abriss, Erik. “Why Kenan Thompson Is the Most Underrated SNL Cast Member Ever”. Vulture. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  26. ^ Macatee, Rebecca. Saturday Night Lives Kenan Thompson Gets Married!”. US Weekly. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  27. ^ Heller, Corinne (June 22, 2014). “Here’s an SNL Weekend Update: Kenan Thompson Is a Dad!”. E! Online. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Diaz, Evelyn (June 23, 2014). “Kenan Thompson, Wife Welcome Baby Girl – It’s the first child for the SNL comedian”. BET. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  29. ^ SNL’ Star Kenan Thompson and Christina Evangeline Welcome Their Second Child”. August 4, 2018.
  30. ^ “PBS KIDS Debuts New Episodes & Online Content from ARTHUR and MARTHA SPEAKS – BWWTVWorld”. Broadway World TV. October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  31. ^ “Match Game (2016) (a Guest Stars & Air Dates Guide)”. epguides.com.
  32. ^ “Studio C + Kenan Thompson in Season 9 Premiere!”. YouTube, Studio C Channel. September 10, 2018.
  33. ^ “Studio C Live from NYC”. BYUTV.org. September 10, 2018.
  34. ^ Henderson, Cydney (February 20, 2019). The Masked Singer’ recap: Two celebrities are revealed in the semifinals”. USA Today. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  35. ^ “Boomerang Unveils New SCOOBY-DOO AND GUESS WHO? & YABBA-DABBA DINOSAURS! Series”. Broadway World. May 23, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  36. ^ Swartz, Tracy. “Meet the 3 Chicago acts performing in new NBC competition ‘Bring the Funny. chicagotribune.com.

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