11 Things You Didn't Know About Cecily Strong

If an alien visited Earth and wanted to learn a bit about American culture, watching a few episodes of Saturday Night Live would probably be an appropriate place to start. The iconic sketch comedy show has been bringing laughter to audiences since its first episode aired way back in October 1975. Now in its 46th season, the cast is made up of new faces, but the show's hilarious spirit is still alive and well.

One of the most experienced members of the current crew is Cecily Legler Strong, who joined the show in its 38th season. Since her premiere episode in 2012, Strong has developed into one of this decade's best SNL's performers. In addition to her work put in at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the extremely talented actress has also appeared in a few comedies, such as 2016's Melissa McCarthy-led The Boss and 2016's Ghostbusters reboot alongside her fellow SNL mates Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. Here are a few things you might not know about Cecily Strong.

Cecily Strong's first paid acting gig was for a McDonald's commercial (that never aired)

Every great actress has to get her start somewhere. For Strong, that start came in the form of commercials. During a recent appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, the Illinoisan comedienne dished about her pre-SNL acting roles, noting that her first paid gig was an unaired ad for McDonald's soft serve ice cream. "I think I was ten or something and I just like licked the cone and then made a face ... it was pretty good! I don't know why it didn't air." Although that ad never saw the light of day, Strong would eventually play a McDonald's employee in an SNL sketch, so it all kind of came full circle for her.

Strong went on to explain that since she grew up outside of Chicago, she also did a lot of other industrials, PSAs, and student films. Clarkson later surprised Strong with a clip of an old anti-smoking ad she had starred in for the Illinois Department of Public Health when she was only 16 years old. As luck would have it, that old ad also featured Outsourced's Parvesh Cheena in his first commercial. Two future NBC stars in one place. Who would've guessed!?

Like SNL legends before her, Cecily Strong performed with The Second City

Chicago's highly prestigious improv comedy club, The Second City, has been a pipeline of sorts for Saturday Night Live dating back to the 1970s. Famous Second City alumni include comedic legends like John BelushiDan AykroydChris Farley, Tina Fey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, just to name a few. Although she may be less seasoned than some of those stars, Cecily Strong also got her start with the infamous improv troupe.

During her time there, Strong understudied for future SNL writer Katie Rich on the club's main stage and also performed with their touring company. Her first paid gig with the company, however, was a four-month contract to perform sketch comedy aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines. "It was like being on a vacation. Then the third month started. Then I was like, is this more of a prison? I just really wanted to spend a night on land at some point again," Strong recalled. Sounds like Strong was "on a boat" before her fellow SNL co-star Andy Samberg made it cool to be.

Cecily Strong was the Weekend Update co-anchor with Seth Myers

Lots of ambitious performers dream of making it to Studio 8H, but only a select few actually get the opportunity. For Cecily Strong, that opportunity came when Charna Halpern, the co-founder of Chicago's iO Theater, saw her working the box office and encouraged her to audition. "If I hadn't passed by the box office that night, she might still be answering phones," Halpern said. One thing led to another, and soon Strong, along with fellow Chicagoan comedienne Aidy Bryant, was booked as a featured player for SNL's 38th season, making her official debut on September 15, 2012.

Proving her comedic value, Strong was promoted to repertory status in the following season and was also granted an additional honor: becoming co-anchor on the show's prestigious "Weekend Update" segment. As the season started, she worked alongside Seth Meyers, but he would leave in February to inherit Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Colin Jost filled in, and eventually Micael Che replaced Strong as his co-anchor to start Season 40. Although she only served as co-anchor for one season, she is one of only a handful of people in history to have sat in that chair.

Cecily Strong hosted the 2015 White House Correspondents' Association dinner

As it would turn out, anchoring the "Weekend Update" segment wasn't the only time that Cecily Strong followed in Seth Meyers' footsteps. In 2011, Meyers hosted the prestigious White House Correspondents' Dinner, an honor that Strong would also earn in 2015. As the featured entertainer, Strong had the difficult task of roasting politicians, including then-President Barack Obama, to their faces.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Strong opened up about how she found out she would be hosting, admitting that she was initially reluctant to accept: "When I figured out this was for real, I was actually hoping it would fall on a show week so I would have a very easy excuse to back out of it. But it's too exciting to say no to. I would kick myself." Although her performance received a mixture of reviews, some of her rips on President Obama were undeniably hysterical.

Cecily Strong was in Ghostbusters AND she believes in ghosts

There are some franchises that just shouldn't try reboots. Despite its talented cast, 2016's gender-swapped Ghostbusters was one of many reboots that bombed at the box office, bringing in less domestically than its bloated $144-million production budget. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones were the main leads, but Cecily Strong also had a small role as Jennifer Lynch, the mayor's assistant.

Although her character in the movie seemed skeptical about the existence of ghosts, Strong is actually less incredulous in real life. In a 2014 interview with Chicago-based magazine Michigan Avenue, the SNL starlet confirmed her belief in the paranormal, noting that she believes her apartment is haunted. Later that year, she would again address the topic while appearing on Late Night, including a new discovery she made after conferring with a medium. "She told me it's me that's haunted. ... I'm collecting [spirits] and bringing them home. ... She said if it starts to happen, I have to say, 'Are you from the white light of God?' and they have to answer honestly. ... And if they're not, they gotta leave." It's too bad that this exchange didn't make it into the Ghostbusters script!

Cecily Strong was nominated for an Emmy in 2020

SNL has been on the air since 1975, and throughout its decades-spanning history of bringing laughter to audiences across the county, it has racked up awards like few other television shows. In fact, with a whopping 73 Emmy wins (not to mention 275 nominations), SNL has taken home more Emmy hardware than any other television series in history.

In 2020, Cecily Strong became just the seventh woman in SNL's extraordinary run to be nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy, joining gal pals Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. According to Newsweek, the hilarious "Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party" actress had a hard time believing the news after NBC notified her: "She [an NBC executive] must mean like the show was nominated and she texted all of us or something. So it took another 40 minutes or so to believe it." Although the award ultimately went to the incredible Annie Murphy for her hilarious work as Alexis Rose on Schitt's Creek, Strong's nomination only solidifies the fact that she's one of the funniest women in America.

Cecily Strong loves Triscuits

When asked what her go-to snack was in a 2014 interview with Bon Appétit, Cecily Strong nominated an odd combination: goat cheese and garlic with Triscuit crackers. Apparently, the cracker company was listening and liked what they heard, because in 2017, they partnered with Strong for their "Make 'Scuit Happen" campaign. The SNL actress appeared in a pair of their commercials, proving that she was the perfect fit for the brand.

While it's not uncommon for celebrities to forge partnerships with products and brands, Strong joining with Triscuit had a nostalgic meaning for her. "When I was younger, I would enjoy Triscuit crackers with my mom, and to this day they're still a great go-to snack for me. I've had such a great time working with them," she stated. They may not be as funny as some of the ridiculous, parodical ads she's appeared in on SNL, but you have to assume that Strong's Triscuit commercials hold a special place in her heart.

Cecily Strong is a huge fan of women's soccer

When the US Women's National Soccer team won the World Cup in 2019, it obviously brought a great deal of pride to passionate American fans. One of those passionate fans is actually Cecily Strong, who took to her Instagram and showered the team with praises after their historic victory: "So excited to be this excited. Thank you #USWNT for being real life superheroes breaking record after record after record and showing us excellence and pride and love and a million things I can't put into words..."

Strong has been a fan of soccer her whole life, but not always just as an observer. She actually played on a traveling team until she was 14 but ultimately decided to focus more on acting. During a 2020 appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Strong explained that she had an unusual role model during her footie days: "Somehow I knew Andrew Shue was a professional soccer player and actor, and it was like, that's all I could aspire to be." Although Strong may have never made it on the pitch, she has enjoyed a long and successful career as an actress, so living up to half of Andrew Shue's legacy will just have to do.

Melania Trump enjoys a Strong impression

What's an SNL episode without a little political satire? The cast of the highly decorated sketch comedy conglomerate has made headlines with hilariously spot-on impersonations of political figures for decades, ranging from Chevy Chase's unforgettable impression of President Ford to Kate McKinnon's hysterical take on Hilary Clinton. In the almost nine years that she's worked on SNL, Cecily Strong has also showcased her impersonation prowess on several occasions, portraying celebrities like Jeanine Pirro, Rachel Maddow, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and, perhaps most famously, former First Lady Melania Trump.

While her husband, former President Donald Trump, notoriously despises the impression that 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin does of him on SNL, Melania is apparently more of a good sport about her portrayal. While talking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show in 2018, Strong noted that Donald made it a point to tell her how the former model felt about her impression when he hosted the show back in 2015: "She pointed at me when she walked in ... and then I think [Donald] said, 'She likes your impression.' But I've heard through the grapevine that she watches the show and she likes it." They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Cecily Strong's dog, Lucy, caused an embarrassing scene on an airplane

Who doesn't love a good dog? Certainly not Cecily Strong, who is a proud supporter of the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization that campaigns to save dogs and cats from America's animal shelters. Unsurprisingly, the talented comedienne is also extremely close with her own spaniel, Lucy, who she rescued in 2014.

Given that Strong lives in Los Angeles and works in New York City, Lucy has apparently become quite accustomed to flying on airplanes. During an appearance on Busy Tonight (via IMDb), Strong confirmed that Lucy is a good flying partner ... except for when it comes to using the plane's bathroom together. 

On one particular occasion, Strong's puppy pal caused quite an embarrassing scene when the actress accidentally opened the bathroom door with her pants around her ankles. Lucy got her head out of the door, making it so Strong couldn't shut it, and started barking. Passengers looking back to see what all the ruckus was about presumably got a glimpse of Strong sans pants! "It was a real humbling experience," she recounted. Yeah, mooning an airplane full of people tends to be.

Cecily Strong has a highly anticipated show coming to Apple TV+ in 2021

Outside of SNL, Cecily Strong hasn't really established an especially large presence in Hollywood. Sure, she's popped up in small cameos for shows like Angie TribecaSuperstore, and Scream Queens, but she's never played a leading lady in a movie or television series. It sounds like all that is going to change in 2021.

Early last year, it was reported that Strong would be both producing and starring in a musical comedy series for Apple TV+. Although details on the project are still largely under wraps, Variety reports that the show, which is penned by Despicable Me screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, will follow a couple who discovers a mysterious town called Schmigadoon during a backpacking excursion. The weird part? Schmigadoon's citizens all behave like they're in a 1940s musical production!

With Lorne Michaels attached as an executive producer, it sounds like the untitled series will benefit from Strong's SNL connections. It was recently confirmed that a slew of talented stars, including the likes of Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jane Krakowski, have all officially signed on, so the hype surrounding the upcoming series is at an all-time high.