Like The Characters She Plays, Ellie Kemper Is Kind Of Unbreakable

By Daniel Neman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Ellie Kemper’s new book, “My Squirrel Days,” is a collection of more than two dozen short essays, assembled more or less chronologically, about certain incidents in her life.


Writers are often told to write like their parents are dead.

Ellie Kemper does not believe in that. Her parents, David and Dotty Kemper of Ladue, Mo., are very much alive, and in her first book of autobiographical essays, “My Squirrel Days,” the actress included nothing that might shock or upset them.

Kemper, 38, is famously nice, polite and upbeat. As the title character in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the hapless receptionist Erin in “The Office” and the bridesmaid Becca in “Bridesmaids,” she was essentially playing exaggerated versions of her perky and cheerful self.

“They’re all sort of similar to me. That is something that I enjoy, because I think I know my strengths as an actor, and I like playing them up,” she said by phone from her home in New York.

“I’m not worried about being typecast, (but) I think it would be fun playing something the opposite of what I’ve had experience playing. Something with a little bit more edge would be fun to play.”

The 1998 John Burroughs High School grad comes back to town a few times a year, and every time she tries to do some of her favorite things, “most of them food-related.” She gets the BLT from PJ’s Tavern in Kirkwood, a chicken dish from House of India in University City, a chicken salad sandwich (Chuck’s No. 39) from Companion Bakery “and of course I love going to Ted Drewes,” she said.

Ice cream is something of an obsession for Kemper, a theme she touches on briefly and humorously in her book. While acknowledging Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough flavor as a longtime love, her current favorite has St. Louis roots. It is Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, from New York’s Ample Hills Creamerie.

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