Comedian, actress and voice actress Cecily Legler Strong, known primarily for her sketch comedy as a cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL), was born in Springfield, IL on February 8, 1984, but grew up in Oak Park, IL. The daughter of Penelope and William Strong (former Associated Press bureau chief), Cecily’s fascination with SNL began as a child as she would reenact sketches from the show and record old SNL commercials which she watched every day. She says her inspiration was the late SNL cast member Phil Hartman.
Cecily attended Oak Park River Forest High School for two years before transferring to the Chicago Academy of the Arts, graduating in 2002. She then studied acting at the California Institute of the Arts, graduating with a BFA in 2006. She returned to Chicago and continued her education at the Second City Conservancy as a member of the National Touring Company and understudy for the Second City Main Stage. She also studied at the iO Chicago Theater, an improv theater and training club.
Strong’s childhood dream of joining the cast of Saturday Night Live was realized on September 15, 2012. In 2014, she was selected as co-anchor for SNL’s Weekend Update, the program’s most prestigious role. She is quoted as saying she was “truly close to tears. I was trying to keep it together. It was overwhelming and I was so honored.” She co-anchored with Seth Meyers and later Colin Jost. Weekend Update debuted one of Strong’s signature characters, The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as an instant classic. Her ten years and over 200 episodes set a record for a female cast member came to an end in December 17, 2022.
In addition to her SNL career, Strong has also made the leap to movies. She has appeared in seven movies including “The Female Brain”, the 2016 remake of “Ghostbusters”, Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss” and “Staten Island Summer.” She’s even branched out to TV animation with a role on “The Simpsons” and has appeared in several television commercials.
Her recent work includes a 2021 memoir of life and loss in the COVID years entitled, This All Will Be Over Soon, starring in and coproducing with SNL’s Lorne Michaels “Schmigadoon!” a 1940s musical parody series on Apple+TV and a revival of the 1985 Lilly Tomlin play “Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe”.
In 2014 Strong’s comedic skills were on display for perhaps her most prestigious audience as she hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner, where she lampooned the press, politicians, and the President. In the 99 year history of the dinner, which did not allow women in the room until 1962, Strong was only the fifth woman to emcee the event.
Submitted by Michael Guerin, May 2019. Updated by Robert Messer, Jan. 2023.
Sources include: Chicago Tribune, NBC News, OPRF Tabula, Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database