Maya Khabira Rudolph (born July 27, 1972) is an American actress, comedian, and singer. After becoming a member of The Groundlings improv troupe in the late 1990s, Rudolph joined the NBC television series Saturday Night Live, on which she was a cast member from 2000 to 2007. She then ventured into film, appearing in 50 First Dates (2004) and A Prairie Home Companion (2006).
Since leaving Saturday Night Live, Rudolph has appeared in Grown Ups (2010), Bridesmaids (2011), Grown Ups 2 (2013) and Sisters (2015). She has lent her voice to the animated films Shrek the Third (2007) and Big Hero 6 (2014). In addition to her film appearances, Rudolph starred as Ava Alexander on the NBC sitcom Up All Night from 2011 to 2012, and co-hosted her own variety show Maya & Marty.
Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Florida, the daughter of soul singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton and composer, songwriter, and producer Richard Rudolph. Her father is an Ashkenazi Jew, and her mother was African-American. Her paternal grandfather was Sidney Rudolph, a philanthropist who once owned all of the Wendy’s and Rudy’s restaurants in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Her great-grandfather was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, changed his surname from “Rudashevsky” to “Rudolph”, and was one of the founding members of Congregation Beth Shalom, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In May 2000, Rudolph joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as a featured player for the final three episodes of the 1999–2000 season, after a stint as a member of The Groundlings improv troupe, where she met future Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte. Rudolph’s musical talents were frequently employed on Saturday Night Live.
She sang as Beyoncé Knowles in the Prince Show sketches, as the “Space Creature” in the Gays in Space sketches, except for the one on the season 31 episode hosted by Peter Sarsgaard, because it aired around the time Rudolph was on maternity leave. Friend Will Forte substituted for her during that episode. Her ability to change her looks and her command of many accents also led to her playing an unusually wide range of ethnicities on the show, often with only a change of wigs. As “Nooni Schoener,” Rudolph, along with Fred Armisen, created a couple from an unspecified Scandinavian country, who have unplaceable accents and bewilderingly foreign manners. Rudolph was also able to play male characters such as Scott Joplin, Justin Guarini, and Mario Vazquez.