Former child star-turned-actor/comedian, Kenan Thompson first came to national prominence as one of the cast members of the kiddie sketch comedy show, "All That" (Nickelodeon, 1994-2005 ). Unarguably one of the most talented of the lot, the Atlanta- born Thompson was frequently paired up in sketches with fellow cast member Kel Mitchell. Together, the two formed an informal comedy team known simply as "Kenan & Kel." As an adult, Thompson graduated to the big leagues by joining the cast of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) - the first regular cast member to be born after the show premiered.
Starting his acting career in his early teens, Thompson made his major screen debut in 1994's "D2: The Mighty Ducks" as streetwise ice hockey phenom, Russ Tyler (a role he would reprise two years later for the inevitable sequel). Impressed by Thompson's easy charm and likeability on-screen, former actor-turned-TV producer, Brian Robbins, invited Thompson to join the cast of his new sketch-comedy series, "All That." Dubbed by critics as "Saturday Night Live" for the pre-pubescent set, "All That" literally served as a training ground for a number of talented youngsters, including Lori Beth Denberg and Amanda Bynes. Thompson, in particular, became one of the show's breakout stars. In 1997, the comic teamed with his castmate, Kel Mitchell, to star in "Good Burger," a forgettable family comedy co-produced by Nickelodeon and Paramount.
After a brief respite toward the end of the nineties, Thompson returned to the spotlight with a vengeance in the early years of the new millennium. Establishing himself as a solo performer, Thompson landed a recurring role on the J.J. Abrams coming-of-age drama, "Felicity" (WB, 1998-2002). As the humorous DeForrest Ingram, Thompson brought a welcome bit of comic levity to the often angst-heavy storylines for which "Felicity" was notorious.
A year later, Thompson got his next big break. Recruited by producer Lorne Michaels to join the cast of the iconic late night staple, "Saturday Night Live," Thompson started out as a feature player in his first season, but was subsequently promoted to a regular cast member starting in the 2004-05 season. Often times cast as a utility player on other peoples' sketches, Thompson's talents were sorely under-utilized on the show, but the cachet of being an "S.N.L." cast member helped Thompson's career in numerous ways.
In 2004, Thompson parlayed his rising star status to land work in features. Among his first was a small, but memorable role in Kevin Rodney Sullivan's comedy sequel, "Barber Shop 2: Back in Business" (2004). Cast as Calvin Palmer's (Ice Cube) cousin-by-marriage, Kenard, Thompson stole scene after scene with his irresistible performance and admirably held his own opposite veteran comedian-actor, Cedric the Entertainer. Having re-established himself as a talented feature actor, Thompson landed his first starring role on his next project, "Fat Albert" (2004). Based on Bill Cosby's seminal animated series, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (CBS, 1972-1984), the movie version blended live-action with animation. Superbly cast as the titular hero, Thompson's performance was well received by most reviewers. Critics however, almost universally panned the film, itself. Nevertheless, "Fat Albert" proved a corpulent success at the box office, grossing over $48 million domestically. Based on the healthy receipts, not surprisingly, 20th Century Fox promptly approved development on a "Fat Albert" sequel with a tentative release date of 2008.
Continuing his upward rise in 2006, Thompson landed another tailor-made role for himself - this time, as nervous passenger, Troy McDaniel, in the heavily hyped summer flick, "Snakes on a Plane" (2006). A horror/thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson, "Snakes on a Plane" generated tremendous buzz on the internet months before its release. Based on the high anticipation factor, New Line Cinema released the film a week ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the Internet proved to be a less-than-accurate gauge of the film's financial prospects. In its opening weekend, "SOAP" - as it came to be called - grossed "only" $15.2 million - just half of what New Line had originally projected. This was no fault of the actors, however - so Thompson only benefited from his name being associated to such an anticipated, hyped film. Thompson next starred in the low-budget comedy "Wieners" (2008) with Zachary Levi and Fran Kranz. This was followed by a supporting role in the horror parody "Stan Helsing" (2009) and voice appearances in "The Smurfs" (2011) and "The Smurfs 2" (2013) as Greedy Smurf. Thompson continued his voice career with a role in "The Awesomes" (Hulu 2013-15), a superhero parody created by his former SNL co-star Seth Meyers. Thompson also appeared in "They Came Together" (2014), a romantic comedy parody by David Wain starring Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd. At the beginning of the 40th season of"Saturday Night Live," Thompson announced that he was leaving the series at season's end, at which point he would be the show's second-longest-serving cast member after Darrell Hammond.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made acting debut at age five in the title role of the school play "The Gingerbread Man" (date approximate)
Made his film debut as Russ Tyler in the film sequel "D2: The Mighty Ducks"
Was a regular on the ensemble sketch comedy series "All That" (Nickelodeon)
Featured in the film "Heavyweights"
Reprised the role of Russ in "D3: The Mighty Ducks"
Starred as Kenan Rockmore in the Nickelodeon sitcom spin-off "Kenan & Kel"
Appeared along with Kel Mitchell in a recurring role on The WB's comedy series "The Steve Harvey Show"
Co-starred with Mitchell in the film "Good Burger"; directed the music video for the "Good Burger" theme song "We're All Dudes", written and performed by Kel Mitchell
Guest starred as himself on ABC's "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch"
With Mitchell, acted in "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"
Featured in the comedy "My Boss's Daughter"
Added as a feature player to the cast of "Saturday Night Live" and is the longest appearing African-American cast member as of the 2014-15 season, breaking the record previously held by Tim Meadows
Cast as Kenard in "Barbershop 2"
Cast as the title character in the adaptation of Bill Cosby's famed CBS cartoon "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids"