1. Fred Armisen
Lorne Michaels. His wisdom and belief in comedy and music resonates with me always. The two are so closely related. He put The Specials, Devo, and Clem Burke on national TV. They influenced me as much as Dana Carvey and Mike Myers did.
2. Uzo Aduba
I have 6 influential people who have impacted my life directly: Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, and Queen Latifah. I can look at my body of work and see exactly where these people influenced me. I love these women. All of them possess a work ethic that I feel is unmatched. They are not people that have existed or rested on their laurels or rested strictly on talent alone. It’s exceptional talent with a determined and focused work ethic. All of these women are affirmations of sustained excellence. It wasn’t just a one-off thing. They have constantly and continuously come back, and have been greater, better and stronger in whatever it is that they do. All of them, in some capacity, have managed to transcend what we originally met them as and become something else, something greater.
That idea of being greater than your one thing is really exciting to me and has been impactful to my life. It has made me think outside of the box. When I look at myself starting in this business, the idea that there was a place for me didn’t even cross my mind. Then I see these women who didn’t feel like they had a place for them when they started out and because of their perseverance, determination, self-belief, and stick-to-itiveness, they have been able to stay and make a bold place for themselves. So, that made me think, “If I just keep on pushing, if I keep on working hard, I can hopefully one day make a voice for myself too.”
One of the actors that impacted me the most as a young acting student was Marlon Brando. He had a huge effect on my understanding of acting and what was possible. Peter Weir, a filmmaker I had the fortune of working with, is one of my favorite directors and one of my heroes in terms of, again, what’s possible. I know he isn’t necessarily in the entertainment industry, but my acting teacher, Ron Stetson, was hugely influential and important to me.
4. Carson Daly
To me it might be Jimmy Kimmel. We have a long past together. He is like the big brother I never had and is a mentor figure for me. I have known him since I was 8 years old and he’s the one who really got me into the radio business. We had a radio show together over 20 years ago and have still remained close. Within the business, Jimmy is my first go-to if I need anything and he has always been there for me. He is my Oprah.