From an office assistant, to a sheltered bridesmaid, to a woman who escaped a bunker after being held hostage for 15 years, Ellie Kemper is no stranger to versatile roles.
"Be sure to continue to carve out that time every day, even if it’s 10 minutes," Kemper said. "Whatever it is, just strike that healthy balance in your life."
Teamwork makes the dream work
"I’m so proud of the fact that I used to be a jock," she said. "I bring it up at like every opportunity, like, 'Well, when I played field hockey ... '"
Throughout her sports days, Kemper learned valuable lessons such as discipline and knowing that the physical challenge her body faced in each sport would eventually end.
"I think those are lessons that you take with you for the rest of your life."
Celebrate the moment.
Kemper was cast as Erin Hannon on NBC’s "The Office" toward the end of season five. Prior to joining the show, she says she was a huge fan.
"It feels like I won the lottery to be any part of that. Especially because I was such a fan."
Kemper says being cast on the show was a special time in her life and, in true Erin fashion, she tells herself to celebrate every moment.
Your work should resonate with you.
Throughout her acting career, Kemper has played many notable characters in addition to Erin on "The Office." In 2011, Kemper starred as Becca in "Bridesmaids."
"Bridesmaids" was written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. Kemper says at the time, no one was making movies that would "set the world ablaze" with feminism and women being funny.
"Nobody knew exactly if it would resonate with people. Well, it did," she said.
She added that you can’t always be sure if something will be a hit so you should always just do the best work you can and then it should resonate personally with you.”
Kemper’s favorite scene? Despite her grandpa’s objections, the iconic food poisoning scene takes the cake. She said she’s always on board for that kind of humor.
"Just throwing up that day was fun because it was all vanilla pudding and [I] just got to eat pudding all day and then throw it up."
Take it 10 seconds at a time.
Kemper starred as the title character in Netflix’s "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." In the show, Kemper’s character was kidnapped and held in an underground bunker for 15 years until she finally escaped.
Kemper says it was an inspiration to play Kimmy because she says she is braver and much more tenacious than she is.
"It sounds hokey, but I derived a lot of strength from her," she said.
One lesson of strength she took from her was Kimmy’s mantra of taking things 10 seconds at a time.
"I found that so helpful in my personal life because you have to manage it in finite chunks, otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed."
Enjoy every moment.
Kemper gave birth to her son Matthew in September 2019 and says being a mom has taught her a lot about patience.
"You can’t lose your temper because kids will try your patience, but you have to be the calm one," she said.
This is where the mantra she learned from her character Kimmy Schmidt comes in. When her kids are crying or screaming, Kemper tries to take 10 seconds to breathe it out because it will pass, and to enjoy the moments when children are young because they grow up so quickly.
Carve out time for self-care.
“Self-care is very important to me.”
The importance of it became more apparent to her after having a child. When she felt she was losing her patience or temper, Kemper said she realized she had to take care of herself to be a good mom.
"I tried to always carve out 20 minutes in my day or something where I can just be alone drinking a cup of coffee," she said, adding that exercise also helps her calm down and keep things in perspective.
But most importantly, just take out the time and strike that healthy balance -- even if it only is for 10 minutes.