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The Transformation Of Jenny Slate From Childhood To Parks And Recreation

The introduction of Mona-Lisa Saperstein in the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" was an instantly famous moment in a show filled with them. In a show filled with unique characters, Mona-Lisa stood out from her introduction as an employee at Tom Haverford's Rent-A-Swag store, where she threatened to start a fire in the bathroom if she didn't get to leave early to go watch a Pitbull concert with her therapist.

The character is played by comedian Jenny Slate, who had an illustrious career even prior to her appearance on the show. Slate was no stranger to comedy fans at the time, having appeared in numerous shows and movies alongside other famous performers, while also being a fixture in the New York comedy scene prior to her appearance to the Amy Poehler-starring series. Her fanbase has only continued to grow since the series ended, and this is what the transformation of Jenny Slate from childhood to "Parks and Recreation" was like.

Jenny Slate shares her birthplace with many notable figures

Jenny Slate was born in March 1982 in a Massachusetts town called Milton, which is a suburb of Boston, to Ron and Nancy Slate, according to TV Guide, and grew up with a Jewish background. She ended up as a middle child (via Vulture), with both an older sister, Abigail, and a younger one, Stacey. She went to Milton Academy during her formative years, a school whose alumni include poet T.S. Eliot, former Senator Robert Kennedy, and Sarah Schecter, who has gone on to be an executive producer on shows such as "Batwoman," "Blindspot," "Riverdale," and "The Flight Attendant." 

After graduating from Milton Academy as a valedictorian (via Boston Magazine), Slate went on to Columbia University to study literature. It was there that she created an improv group called "Fruit Paunch," and also participated in the campus Varsity Show (via The Columbia Spectator). She also met Gabe Liedman, another student in her year, before graduating in 2004, as reported by In the Gloss.

Jenny Slate appeared both on stage and on screen

Slate made her acting debut in 2005 in an uncredited guest role in the short-lived comedy series "Starved," which had Laura Benanti and Sterling K. Brown in its main cast. She followed that up with further guest turns on sketch comedy shows such as "The Whitest Kids U'Know" and "Important Things with Demetri Martin," but really began gaining the public's attention with her work as Jenny the Page on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in 2009.

Slate was also making a name for herself in the comedy scene in New York City at the time, re-teaming with her Columbia peer Gabe Liedman to create a comedy duo called "Gabe & Jenny" (via Gothamist). The two co-hosted a standup show with fellow comedian Max Silvestri called "Big Terrific," according to Gothamist, which included guests such as Kristen Schaal, who went on to star in the comedy series "Last Man On Earth," and Hannibal Buress, who was later seen on the show "Broad City." During this time, Slate also performed a one-woman show called "Jenny Slate: Dead Millionaire," which was about the funeral of a character who left $300 million to her dog.

Jenny Slate joined Saturday Night Live in 2009

Slate's big break came in 2009 when she joined the cast of the famous sketch comedy series "Saturday Night Live" alongside fellow comedian Nasim Pedrad. She made a splash right in her debut episode when, in a sketch alongside Kristen Wiig and guest host Megan Fox, she accidentally said the F-word instead of a similar-sounding but inoffensive word, as was the premise of the sketch (via PB Pulse). She went on to play numerous other characters, including doing impersonations of famous people such as Hoda Kotb, Ashley Olsen, and Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, Slate was let go from the show after one season, later saying to In Style that she wasn't a good fit on the show.

2009 was also when Slate appeared on the HBO comedy series "Bored to Death" in a recurring role. Created by Jonathan Ames, the show starred Jason Schwartzmann, Zach Galifianakis, and Ted Danson, and focused on a Brooklyn writer who also worked as a private detective, albeit without a license. Slate played Jenny, a member of an organic food co-op who develops a romantic relationship with Jonathan, played by Schwartzmann.

On top of that, 2009 also saw the release of the short film "Obvious Child," in which Slate starred, and which was directed by Gillian Robespierre, who also co-wrote the short. This would later prove to be another key part of Slate's career.

Jenny Slate began her feature film acting career

Slate continued to make a name for herself in the ensuing years, co-writing the short film "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" in 2010, as well as voicing the titular Marcel. The success of the short film led to a sequel in 2011, titled "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Two," which saw Slate reprise both her voice acting and co-writing responsibilities. She also made her feature film debut in 2011 with "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," the third entry in the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise, where Slate played Zoe alongside Jason Lee, David Cross, and Phyllis Smith. She followed that up with a role in the 2012 romantic comedy "This Means War," where she played Emily, the assistant to Lauren, an executive played by Reese Witherspoon who was also the lead female character in the film.

Slate continued her work in television, appearing in the comedy sitcom "Raising Hope," alongside Cloris Leachman and Martha Plimpton, as well as the HBO series "Girls." But 2013 marked another turning point in her career, as she made several notable TV appearances. One of them was in the Showtime comedy series "House of Lies," where she played Sarah, girlfriend and wife to Doug Guggenheim, played by Josh Lawson. She also played a number of characters on the sketch comedy series "Kroll Show," alongside comedians Nick Kroll and Jason Mantzoukas.

Parks and Recreation and beyond

Nonetheless, Slate's biggest break in 2013 came on the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," where she made her first appearance in the Season 5 episode "Bailout" as Mona-Lisa Saperstein, twin sister to Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, played by Ben Schwartz. The episode also co-starred Jason Schwartzmann, with whom Slate had worked on "Bored to Death." Slate became a recurring character on the show, and a regular fixture in the town of Pawnee, in which the show was set. Her final appearance was in the show's series finale, "One Last Ride," where she was last seen helping Jean-Ralphio fake his own death.

Slate followed up that appearance by re-teaming with Robespierre for the feature-length version of "Obvious Child" in 2014, once again working with her in 2017 for the film "Landline," where she co-starred alongside Edie Falco and Jay Duplass. Slate also appeared in the 2016 film "Brain on Fire," alongside Chloe Grace Moretz, the 2017 film "Gifted" alongside Chris Evans, and in the FX dramedy "Married" alongside Judy Greer and Brett Gelman. 

She went on to make her comics film debut in 2018 with "Venom," in which she played Dr. Dora Skirth, a scientist at the Life Foundation experimenting on the symbiotes.

Slate's star continues to be on the rise, and this is surely not the last anyone has heard of her.