Julia Louis-Dreyfus will receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor this year at the Kennedy Center, The New York Times reports.
“Like Mark Twain, Julia has enriched American culture with her iconic, unforgettable, and outright hilarious brand of humor,” Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, said of Louis-Dreyfus in a statement. “Over four decades, her wildly original characters and her gift for physical comedy have left us in stitches.”
According to her bio on IMDB, The Veep star made her film debut in Hannah And Her Sisters, a 1986 Woody Allen comedy film. But her big break into television came when she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. She was a regular cast member on the iconic comedy show for three years.
But, as one of the four original cast members, her role as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld launched her into the public eye during the 1990s.
The role of Elaine wasn’t in the original concept for the show, The Washington Post reports. NBC only picked up the show in 1989 but only if they added a female character as a counterpoint to the male dominant cast. Louis-Dreyfus won the role over actresses like Megan Mullally and Rosie O’Donnell. Larry David, one of the creators of Seinfeld, later said that they were “lucky” that she was available for the role because of her “bright,” “charming,” and “striking,” disposition.
After the Seinfeld series finale in 1998, Louis-Dreyfus cemented her comedic career on shows like The Adventures Of Old Christine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and Veep, which is in its final season.
“Merely to join the list of distinguished recipients of this award would be honor enough, but, as a student of both American history and literature, the fact that Mr. Twain himself will be presenting the award to me in person is particularly gratifying,” Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, 57, quipped in her “thank-you” statement for the prize.
With this accolade, Louis-Dreyfus joins something of a comedic hall of fame. Some of the past winners of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor include Richard Pryor, Will Ferrell, Lily Tomlin, and Bill Cosby. Cosby had his prize recently revoked, however, because of his sexual assault conviction.
As The Washington Post notes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus currently holds the record for the most Emmys ever received by a single actor or actress. She has won 11 of those golden statuettes over her career and she has been nominated 24 times for television’s highest honor. Louis-Dreyfus has also won a Peabody award, a Golden Globe award, and nine Screen Actors Guild Awards.