The Office’s Ellie Kemper to speak at WUSTL April 26

St. Louis actress to be featured at annual Adele Starbird Lecture

Actress, writer and comedienne Ellie Kemper, best known for her supporting role as Kelly “Erin” Hannon in NBC’s The Office, will deliver the annual Women’s Society Adele Starbird Lecture at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 26, at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ellie Kemper as Erin Hannon on The Office. (Credit: NBC)

During her talk, titled “Journey of an American Actress,” Kemper will discuss her rise in Hollywood. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held in Graham Chapel, located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University Danforth Campus.

During the fifth season of The Office (2009), Kemper was cast in a supporting role as Erin, a Dunder Mifflin office receptionist.

Kemper’s character and performance has grown popular among fans. Joshua Ostroff of Eye Weekly said, “Erin’s high-grade adorability, up-for-anything attitude and sheer niceness is unlike anyone else in the office.” Josh McAuliffe of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., where the sitcom is set, said he liked Erin’s “cheerful, appealingly goofy personality.”

Kemper also recently appeared in the films Bridesmaids (2011), which won Best Comedy from the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Favorite Comedy Movie from the People’s Choice Awards, and a nomination for Best Motion Picture Comedy at the Golden Globes; Get Him to the Greek (2010); and Somewhere (2010), directed and written by Sofia Coppola.

Her most recent movie, the comedy remake 21 Jump Street, premiered March 16.

She also has appeared on comedy sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Important Things With Demetri Martin, and an episode of E! Television’s The Gastineau Girls, and several national commercials.

Kemper was born in Kansas City but grew up in St. Louis and attended John Burroughs School. She first was introduced to improvisational comedy during her time as a student at Princeton University, where she participated in an improv troupe called Quipfire! and the Princeton Triangle Club.

After moving to New York City, Kemper participated in the People’s Improv Theatre (The PIT) and the city troupe of Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational comedy and sketch comedy theater. She also has appeared in comedy sketches on “Funny or Die” (, the comedy website started by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. In July 2009, Kemper was named one of Variety magazine’s “10 Comics To Watch.”

Kemper also serves as a contributing writer for the national satirical newspaper The Onion and for McSweeney’s, the literary journal founded by Dave Eggers.

Her essays for McSweeney’s include “Listen, Kid, The Biggest Thing You’ve Got Going For You Is Your Rack,” “In Response To Accusations That My Memoir, ‘I, Ellie Kemper,’ Borrows Numerous Passages From Rigoberta Menchu’s Memoir, ‘I, Rigoberta Menchu’,” and “Some Relatively Recent College Grads Discuss Their Maids.”

Kemper graduated from Princeton in 2002 with a degree in English. After graduation, she studied English for a year at the University of Oxford. She lives in Los Angeles.

About the Women’s Society of Washington University

The Women’s Society of Washington University is a group of more than 600 volunteers and professional women from the St. Louis area.

The society was founded in 1965 to engage women in the life of the university through education, scholarships, student projects and leadership.

Women need not be WUSTL professors or alumnae — or have any other connection to Washington University — to join the Women’s Society. It is open to all who have an interest in supporting the mission and students of Washington University and are seeking intellectual enrichment or networking opportunities.

For more information, visit or call (314) 935-7337.