Maya Rudolph

Compiled by Tolulope Igun and Bill Dunn

On this date in 1972, entertainer Maya Khabira Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Fla., to composer-producer Richard Rudolph, a secular Ashkenazi Jew, and African-American singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton. Her great-grandfather had changed the family name from Rudashevsky and was a founding member of a Conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Riperton died of breast cancer at age 31 when Rudolph was 7 and her dad became her primary caretaker. In Riperton’s song “Lovin’ You,” which topped the Billboard 100 in 1975, she sings “Maya” over and over near the end. Rudolph called her parents “hippies” and her agnostic dad a “pretty adorable Jew” in a New York Times Magazine profile (Sept. 14, 2018). “The family was committedly unreligious,” according to the article.

Rudolph attended the University of California-Santa Cruz and received a B.A. in photography from Porter College in 1995. She was a recurring cast member who often made use of her vocal talent on “Saturday Night Live” from 2000 to 2007 after a stint as a member of The Groundlings improvisational group. She was the fourth black woman to join the cast since the show’s 1975 debut and made numerous “SNL” guest appearances after leaving the show.

She has performed in movies and TV series, including  “50 First Dates” (2004), “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Idiocracy” (2006), “Grown Ups” (2010), “Bridesmaids” (2011), “Up All Night” (2011-12), “The Maya Rudolph Show” (2014) and “Maya and Marty” (2016). In 2018 she started co-starring in and co-producing the Amazon web TV series “Forever” with Fred Armisen. Her appearance on “The Good Place” on NBC in 2018 earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Rudolph has been in a relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson since 2001. They have three daughters and a son: Pearl (b. 2005), Lucille (born 2009), Jack (b. 2011) and Minnie (b. 2013). 

PHOTO: Rudolph, 29, at the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in New York in 2001; photo via Shutterstock by Everett Collection

Freedom From Religion Foundation