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Molly Shannon Reveals Origin of Iconic ‘SNL’ Character Mary Katherine Gallagher

Molly Shannon created her iconic nerdy, Catholic school girl character Mary Katherine Gallagher in a rehearsal for a comedy performance while she was at NYU drama school.

In her Variety “Actors on Actors” sit-down with Emma Stone, Shannon discussed her drama school days, where she performed with future fellow “SNL” cast member Adam Sandler.

“It was in the Black Box Theater at like 10 o’clock at night and it was like the comedy show, and I created Mary Katherine Gallagher in an exercise for rehearsals for that show,” Shannon said. “So we walk through the door and make up a character, [we] don’t think about it, so I walked through the door and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Mary Katherine Gallagher,’ and then you just improvise.”

After school, Shannon went on to create a popular comedy show with a friend of hers and took it to the West Coast.

“My stage show — where I did characters like Sally O’Malley, Mary Katherine Gallagher — I created all these characters in that 55-minute stage show that we would do off and on for years, and that’s the thing that got me the audition for ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Shannon said.

The pair also chatted about auditioning and the pain of facing rejection.

“It happens all the time, I think actors are some of the most resilient bunch on the planet because it’s very rare that you’re getting rejected every single day and you keep going,” Stone said. “It’s like a bunch of first dates, eventually you’d be like, ‘I’m just gonna be single forever.'”

Shannon said she suffered the same feeling when auditioning for TV pilots.

“It’s funny when you say pilot season, I wasn’t ready for that, I had like curly hair and cheap dresses, I wore too much makeup … my look was not together,” Shannon said. “I had an agent who dropped me and she was like a tough showbiz agent and she was like, ‘I have a bit of advice for you, don’t wear so much makeup and get into therapy’ … so I did both.”

Catch theinterview, presented by The Venetian Las Vegas, on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. PT on PBS SoCal KOCE. Click here to watch the full interview.

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