Actress and comedienne Ellie Kemper, most recognized by television audiences as Dunder Mifflin receptionist Erin Hannon on The Office, has been acting and writing most of her adult life in New York City prior to her addition to the cast of the NBC hit comedy.
The St. Louis, Missouri native attended Princeton University, where she was initiated into improvisational comedy via the university's comedy troupe Quipfire! After finishing her English degree in 2002, Ellie took up English in Oxford University, which furthered her mastery of the language.
Shortly after, Kemper settled in New York where she was exposed to comedy sketch groups and improv theatre companies such as Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Mailer Daemon, and People's Improv Theatre. Among the shows she performed in were The Improvised Mystery, Listen Kid, Death and/or Despair, and Gang Bang. During that time, Ellie collaborated with fellow Princeton alumnus Scott Eckert and wrote several sketch shows together.
She also began contributing articles to the satirical newspaper The Onion and to McSweeney's literary journals. While performing improv at night and going in auditions for television roles, she supported herself by doing commercials. After her guest appearance on E! Television's reality show Gastineau Girls and a couple of comedy sketch spots on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Ellie was hired to play Erin, Pam Beesly's (Jenna Fischer) replacement at the reception desk of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch during the fifth season of The Office. Received well by the show's fans, Kemper was promoted to series regular for the series sixth season in 2009. That year, she also played the role of Jamie in Mystery Team, a comedy by UCB fellow member Dan Eckman.