Kenan Thompson
Thompson in 2019
Born (1978-05-10) May 10, 1978 (age 43)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1994–present
Christina Evangeline
(m. 2011)

Kenan Thompson (/ˈknən/; 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] He was also the first regular cast member born after the show's premiere in 1975. He currently stars on the NBC sitcom Kenan, which premiered in 2021.

Thompson began his acting career in the early 1990s, and was an original cast member of Nickelodeon's sketch comedy series All That, where he often collaborated with co-star Kel Mitchell. In 1996, they began starring in their own sitcom Kenan & Kel (1996–2000). Thompson also had roles in The Mighty Ducks franchise, Good Burger, and as the title character in the 2004 film Fat Albert.

He has been nominated four times for a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on SNL, winning once.[3] He is ranked at No. 88 on VH1's 100 Greatest Teen Stars.

Early life

Thompson was born on May 10, 1978 in Columbus, Ohio.[4] His parents are Fletcher and Elizabeth Ann Thompson. He has two siblings: an older brother and a younger sister. His family moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was 9 months old.[5] Thompson's mother enrolled him in acting classes at age five. His first role as Toto in a church production of The Wiz had no lines.[2] He continued acting throughout his youth, appearing in school plays such as The Gingerbread Duck.[6] He auditioned for a theater company, The Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA).[7] 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.[8]


Early career

One of Thompson's earliest roles was as an entertainment reporter for CNN's "Real News for Kids".[9] He went on to star in the original run of All That (where he got replaced by Gabriel Iglesias), with such characters as Principal Pimpell, Miss Piddlin, Pierre Escargot, and Superdude. He starred as Kenan Rockmore on Nickelodeon's Kenan & Kel.[9] While attending 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

Thompson 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.

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.[10] The series premiered on April 19, 2009,[10] 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 retro 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 That's 22nd anniversary, with segments filmed at the 2015 New York Comic-Con.[11]

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

In 2015, movie ticketing website Fandango announced that Thompson would play their brand character, Miles Mouvay. Thompson would play Mouvay in 18 videos, eight 30-second commercials, and a few comedic skits.[12]

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.[13]

In 2019, Thompson served as a judge for NBC's comedy competition series Bring the Funny.[14] He also became an executive producer with Mitchell for Nickelodeon's All That revival, premiering in June.[15] In May 2019, NBC announced they had picked up Thompson's single-camera comedy The Kenan Show to series. The series, retitled Kenan, premiered in 2021 on NBC and features Thompson as a newly-widowed father determined to be a "super dad".[16] He was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series after its first season.

In 2020, he became the spokesman for Universal Parks & Resorts’ "Let Yourself Woah" campaign,[17] and was set to host the 2020 White House Correspondents' Dinner before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[18]

2021 would also see Thompson be named host of that year's Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards[19] and People's Choice Awards.[20] He also hosted The Jonas Brothers Family Roast on Netflix.[21]

Saturday Night Live

Thompson in 2012
Thompson in 2012

Thompson returned to sketch comedy when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003, becoming the show's first cast member born after its 1975 premiere.[22] 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".[8] 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".[8] 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.[23][24]

Thompson has been a cast member on SNL for 19 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 years. 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.[25] Thompson also holds the record for most celebrity impressions performed on the show, performing 139, beating Hammond's previous record of 107.[26] 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".[27][28]

Thompson has been nominated for four Primetime Emmys for his work on SNL, winning once. He has thrice been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, in 2018, 2020 and 2021. For co-writing the song "Last Christmas", in 2017 he was nominated for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, an award he then won in 2018 for the lyrics to Come Back Barack (along with Chris Redd and Will Stephen).[29]

In 2014, SNL head writer 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."[30] Similarly, Lorne Michaels in a 2019 article would refer to Thompson as "the person I most rely on in the cast".[28] Vulture referred to him as the "heir apparent" to Phil Hartman, both being "the glue" of their respective casts.[31]

Thompson's celebrity impressions on SNL include Al Sharpton, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby, Charles Barkley, David Ortiz, OJ Simpson, and Steve Harvey on the recurring Family Feud sketch.[32]

Recurring characters

Personal life

Thompson married model Christina Evangeline[33] on November 11, 2011.[34] Together, they have two daughters, Georgia, born June 20, 2014,[35][36] and Gianna, born August 2, 2018.[37]


Kenan Thompson film work
Year Title Role Notes
1994 D2: The Mighty Ducks Russ Tyler
1995 Heavyweights Roy Murphy
1996 D3: The Mighty Ducks Russ Tyler
1997 Good Burger Dexter Reed
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Lewis
2002 Big Fat Liar Party Guest
2002 The Master of Disguise Guy on Computer
2003 Love Don't Cost a Thing Walter Colley
2003 My Boss's Daughter Hans
2004 Barbershop 2: Back in Business Kenard
2004 Fat Albert Fat Albert
2006 Snakes on a Plane Troy
2008 Space Chimps Ringmaster Voice
2008 Wieners Wyatt
2009 Stan Helsing Teddy
2011 The Smurfs Greedy Smurf Voice
2012 The Magic of Belle Isle Henry
2013 The Smurfs 2 Greedy Smurf Voice
2014 They Came Together Teddy
2014 The Opposite Sex Mitch
2016 Rock Dog Riff Voice
2016 Brother Nature Miesha
2017 Going in Style Keith
2018 The Grinch Bricklebaum Voice
2019 Wonder Park Gus
2019 Playmobil: The Movie Bloodbones
2019 Dads Himself Documentary
2020 Trolls World Tour Tiny Diamond Voice
2020 Hubie Halloween Officer Blake
2021 Clifford the Big Red Dog Clifford's veterinarian
2021 Home Sweet Home Alone Gavin Washington
Kenan Thompson television work
Year Title Role Notes
1994–99 All That Various Roles Main role (Seasons 1-5)
2002 Guest role (Season 7)
2005 Guest role (Season 10)
2019–20 Executive producer (Season 11)
1996–98 The Steve Harvey Show Junior 4 episodes
1996–2000 Kenan & Kel Kenan Rockmore Main role
1997 Sister, Sister Trevor Episode: "Inherit the Twin"
1998 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Kenan Rockmore Episode: "Sabrina's Choice"
1999 The Amanda Show Himself Episode: "Episode 1"
1999 Cousin Skeeter Kenan Rockmore Episodes: "Hoo, I'm Wild Wild West" (Parts 1 & 2)
2000 The Parkers Damon Episode: "Trading Places"
2001 Felicity DeForrest Ingram 4 episodes
2002 Off Centre MC French 2 episodes
2003 Clifford the Big Red Dog Hamburger Voice; Episode: "Food for Thought/Friends Forever"
2003–present Saturday Night Live Himself/Various roles Repertory player (Season 31-present)
2005 Wild 'N Out Himself Episode: "Kenan Thompson"
2018 Episode: "All That Takeover"
2005 Rugrats Mirror Voice; Episode: "Tales from the Crib: Snow White"
2007 Crank Yankers Mark Thomas Episode: "4.1"
2008 The Mighty B! Rocky Rhodes Voice; 5 episodes
2009 Psych Joon Episode: "High Top Fade-Out"
2009 Sit Down, Shut Up Sue Sezno Voice: 13 episodes
2011 iCarly Himself Episode: "iParty with Victorious"
The '90s Are All That Host
2013 Martha Speaks Stanley Voice; Episode: "Stanley Saves The Day/Milo Goes For Gold"[38]
2013–15 The Awesomes Austin "Impresario" Sullivan Voice
2015 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Socko Episode: "Rorg: A Hero of a Past"
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Lester Oakes Episode: "James Spader/Andrew Rannells/Brian Regan"
2015–20 Nature Cat Ronald Voice, Season 1 only
2016 Maya & Marty Various roles Main role
2016, 2019 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Roland 2 episodes
2017–19 Match Game Himself/Panelist 4 episodes[39]
2018 Double Dare Himself Contestant; episode: "Team Kel vs. Team Kenan"
2018 Studio C Himself, various roles [40][41]
2019 The Masked Singer Himself Guest judge; episodes 8, 9[42]
2019 Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? Voice; Episode: "Quit Clowing"[43]
2019 Bring the Funny Judge[44]
2020 America's Got Talent Guest judge Season 15, two episodes 1
2020 Trolls: TrollsTopia Tiny Diamond Voice
2021–present Kenan Kenan Williams[45] Main role and executive producer
2021 2021 Kids' Choice Awards Himself Host
2021 Trolls: Holiday in Harmony Tiny Diamond [46]
2021 47th People's Choice Awards Himself Host
2021 Jonas Brothers Family Roast Himself Host

^1 Thompson stood in for Cowell, who was still recovering from a back injury the previous week that required him to rest under medical observation.

Kenan Thompson albums
Year Title Notes
2004 Good Times Comedy album


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  35. ^ Heller, Corinne (June 22, 2014). "Here's an SNL Weekend Update: Kenan Thompson Is a Dad!". E! Online. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "'SNL' Star Kenan Thompson and Christina Evangeline Welcome Their Second Child". August 4, 2018.
  38. ^ "PBS KIDS Debuts New Episodes & Online Content from ARTHUR and MARTHA SPEAKS – BWWTVWorld". Broadway World TV. October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  39. ^ "Match Game (2016) (a Guest Stars & Air Dates Guide)".
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  42. ^ Henderson, Cydney (February 20, 2019). "'The Masked Singer' recap: Two celebrities are revealed in the semifinals". USA Today. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
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