American actress Kate Flannery is well known to television audiences as Meredith Palmer on the hit NBC comedy series “The Office” (2005-present), which was adapted from a successful BBC series of the same name. For her performance, she took home two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a TV Land Award. Commenting about working on the show, she said, “We all realized that this is probably going to be the greatest experience that any of us have ever had ever. Even Steve Carell has said that. It's just such a special show. We all won the lottery.”
Flannery has also guest starred in such TV shows as “Saturday Night Live,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Bernie Mac Show” and acted in such film productions as “Can't Stop Dancing” (1999), “Carolina” (2003), “Danny Roane: First Time Director” (2006), “Wild Girls Gone” (2007) and “You” (2009), which was directed by and starred “The Office” cast member Melora Hardin. Prior to gaining success on television, the comedic stage actress spent a number of years paying her dues in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. She is part of the long-running lounge act parody “The Lampshades” that plays regularly at the Improv Olympic in Hollywood.
“I’ve done theater for years. The TV and film stuff came very slowly although I will say that in high school, I was an extra in the movie ‘Taps.’ I missed my senior prom because I was an extra in ‘Eddie and the Cruisers.’ If you’re from Philadelphia, there are just a few movies that come through there. I really enjoy theater and I’ve had some great experiences off-Broadway and just touring at the Kennedy Center and a lot of different cities. But, I will say that the TV is very, very specific and as much as I loved to be in New York, for me, I felt like I really have to be in L.A. to pursue that kind of work. And it takes time. It’s been a long struggle in a lot of ways and now I’m an overnight success.” Kate Flannery
Also a singer, Flannery once joined Mono Puff, a side project of John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. Using the stage name Lady Puff, she toured with the band and contributed her vocals on their second album, “It's Fun To Steal.”
Childhood and Family:
Born Katherine Patricia Flannery on June 10, 1964, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kate Flannery was raised in an Irish-American family in the nearby suburb of Ardmore. She is part of seven siblings that consists of one boy and six girls, including her twin sister. Kate knew she wanted to get into acting and that led to her appearing as an extra in the George C. Scott and Timothy Hutton vehicle “Taps” (1981) and the Martin Davidson directed “Eddie & The Cruisers” (1983). She would later pursue acting at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Virginia. A graduate from the Archbishop John Carroll High School for Girls in Radnor, Kate stayed at Shenandoah for two years and then transferred to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Kate's family has a bar in Philadelphia named T.A. Flannery's. It was at the bar that she drew her inspiration for her alcoholic character in “The Office.” Kate is friends with Marc Cherry, the creator of “Desperate Housewives,” and J.J. Abrams, the creator of “Alias” and “Lost.”
Valley of the Dolls
Kate Flannery appeared in a local dinner theater production of “Bye, Bye Birdie” while in high school. She did not decide to work in comedy professional until after graduating from Philadelphia's University of the Arts. To achieve her dreams, she left Philadelphia for Chicago, where she was quickly recruited as a performer for the Second City's National Touring Company. Around that same period, she also joined the Annoyance Theater and performed in shows like “Miss Vagina Pageant” (1991) and the cult hit “The Real Live Brady Bunch” (1992). She toured with the latter show for two years and enjoyed sold-out crowds in more than 30 cities.
Flannery's work in improvisation earned her an audition for the fame NBC sketch series “Saturday Night Live.” Although she did not join the show, the quick-witted redhead would work on “SNL” several years later when she voiced Lucy in a 2002 episode called “Al Gore/Phish.”
A skilled stage actress, Flannery landed the role of singer Neely O’Hara in the off-Broadway hit “Valley of the Dolls” (1996) at the Circle in the Square in New York City. She also performed the play at the Bing Theatre in Los Angeles. After several years doing theater and improvisation, Flannery decided to relocate to Los Angeles to try her hand at television and film.
In 1999, Flannery made her big screen debut in the Palm Springs International Film Festival-screened “Can't Stop Dancing,” a comedy starring Ben Zook, who also co-wrote and co-directed (with Stephen David) the film. Flannery then appeared in the Sundance-premiered “Trick” (also 1999), which was directed by Jim Fall and starred Christian Campbell and John Paul Pitoc. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious festival. The following year, Flannery portrayed a reporter in the award winning short “Amy Stiller's Breast,” which was directed by Becky Neiman.
Flannery first appeared on television in 2001 when she landed a guest spot on the MTV soap opera “Spyder Games,” playing Bunny. After appearing in the direct-to-video black comedy “Life Without Dick” (2002), which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Harry Connick Jr., she was featured in two episodes of the hit HBO sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” titled “The Corpse-Sniffing Dog” and “Mary, Joseph and Larry” (both 2002). She then played Tracey in a 2003 episode of “Boomtown,” the NBC drama series that starred Donnie Wahlberg and Neal McDonough, and was cast as a café waitress in the Julia Stiles romance film “Carolina” (2003).
Still an active stage performer, Flannery portrayed a teenaged prostitute in “The Phacts of Life” at the Renberg Theatre in Los Angeles and appeared in the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner production of “Hildy, Hildy, Three Feet Under” at The Evidence Room (both 2004). The same year, she appeared as Christopher's (played by Jordan Orr) mom in the “The Bernie Mac Show” episode “Stiff Upper Lip. “
2005 saw Flannery make guest appearance on ABC's “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and shoot the short films “The Heir Apparent” and “I'm Not Gay.” However, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native did not hit the big time until she won the regular role of Meredith Palmer on the American version of “The Office” (NBC, 2005-current). The show won a 2006 Emmy in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series, not to mention several other awards and nominations such as the 2007 Peabody Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical (2007 and 2009). As the alcoholic, divorced, single mother, Flannery shared two Screen Actors Guilds for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, which she shared with costars Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B. J. Novak, Ed Helms, Oscar Nunez, Brian Baumgartner and Angela Kinsey. She and “The Office” cast members also picked up the 2008 Future Classic Award at the TV Land Awards. “The character was initially explained to me as divorced, with a hysterectomy, lactose intolerant, blue collar, no makeup. That was pretty much in the breakdown. I remember getting there and seeing some other actresses that I knew from ‘Second City’ and I thought they’re going to get it, I’m not going to get it. Then, by the time I got home, I got a call from the casting director to go to another place and do it again as soon as I could get there. And they had me do it again; they had me do it just a little bit more deadpan. By the time I got home from that, I found out I got it. I didn’t even realize it was going to be a regular thing. I thought it was going to be just one episode,” Flannery recalled.
After landing her most prominent role to date in “The Office,” Flannery supported Eddie Alfano, Jamie Anne Allman, Bob Bancroft and Jack Black in the comedy feature “Danny Roane: First Time Director” (2006) for filmmaker Andy Dick, costarred as Sharon Nyenhuis in the 35-minute length comedy “Jesus People” (2007) and had a bit role in “Wild Girls Gone” (2007), a comedy helmed by John Ennis. Recently, in 2009, she appeared in the independent film “You,” which was the feature directing debut of former “The Office” costar Melora Hardin.
As co-creator of the spoof lounge act “The Lampshades,” Flannery has performed regularly with veteran improviser Scot Robinson at the Improv Olympic West stage in Los Angeles, California, since 2003. Her show also played at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
TV Land: Future Classic Award, “The Office,” 2008
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, “The Office,” 2008
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, “The Office,” 2007