Kate McKinnon Gave A Touching Tribute To Ellen DeGeneres At The Golden Globes

kate mckinnon golden globes 2020

The stars of film and TV were out for the 2020 Golden Globes (with some big winners and losers), and a highlight came when SNL star Kate McKinnon took the stage to present Ellen DeGeneres with The Carol Burnett Award. Before the big moment came for DeGeneres to accept the award, McKinnon shared a tribute that was touching, personal, and hilarious. Crediting DeGeneres for paving the way for LGBTQ artists and comedians like her to make it to the mainstream, McKinnon said this:

I would like to read a list of things that tonight’s recipient Ellen DeGeneres has personally given me. Some of these are spiritual and some of them are pieces of clothing I got to keep after doing impressions of her on her talk show. A road map for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy. Two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers. That’s one of the clothes ones. A desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things that we have in common. My best collared shirts. A sense of self.

Kate McKinnon was emotional throughout her Golden Globes speech to Ellen DeGeneres, but she made sure the mood stayed light by peppering in items of clothing she'd received for her impressions of DeGeneres on her incredibly successful talk show. Both women were tearing up by the end -- and not because of the Stan Smith sneakers -- but the tribute was one of the most heartwarming and uplifting segments of the night.

Considering Kate McKinnon has arguably been the biggest name on Saturday Night Live in recent years and also hit the big screen with some notable film roles, entertainment would be missing a comedy great if she hadn't followed in Ellen DeGeneres' footsteps. It's also a sign of how much DeGeneres must respect McKinnon as an entertainer that McKinnon has been invited on DeGeneres' show to do her impression.

Kate McKinnon went into specifics about what Ellen DeGeneres has meant to her and her career over the years.

In 1997 when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity. I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was, and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself. It’s sort of like doing 23 and Me and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV. She’d risked her entire life, and her entire career, to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. And If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.’ More than that, I would have gone on thinking I was an alien, and that I maybe didn’t have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.

Ellen DeGeneres famously came out as gay on TV in 1997 during an episode of her sitcom Ellen, which was cancelled after just one more season. Her career suffered, and it was a long journey from Ellen to where she is today, as host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In the video montage of the highlights of Ellen DeGeneres' career, viewers saw the clip that changed DeGeneres' career, as her character confessed that she's gay to Laura Dern's character back in 1997, as well as her many accomplishments in the years since she earned her way back to the top in entertainment.

Fans can be confident that Ellen DeGeneres isn't going anywhere any time soon, and Kate McKinnon will likely be a welcome guest for a long time coming. How long McKinnon will remain at SNL remains to be seen; her career could very well flourish no matter which direction she takes in the coming years.

For more of the biggest moments from the 2020 Golden Globes, check out our rundown of the 7 most awkward jokes from Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes opening monologue, as well as some of Tom Hanks' best reaction faces. For more viewing options in the new year, swing by our 2020 midseason premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).