October 24, 1980
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
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Actress-comedian-writer Casey Wilson rightfully earned her reputation as an up-and-coming talent with her screenwriting credits, work on stage, and as the star of a popular television sitcom. Emerging from the ranks of the acclaimed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Wilson's comedic chops soon garnered the attention of executive producer Lorne Michaels, who signed her on to the cast of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) in 2008. Although she impressed with a combination of gut-busting impersonations and original characters, her time on "SNL" was short-lived. Pushing forward on a number of fronts, Wilson co-wrote the wedding comedy "Bride Wars" (2009), in addition to contributing stories to the humor anthology book Worst Laid Plans. Small appearances in the feature films "Julie & Julia" (2009) and "Killers" (2010) paved the way for the biggest role of her career as one of the stars of the popular sitcom "Happy Endings," (ABC, 2011- ). As the unlucky-in-love, yet always upbeat Penny, Wilson received the lion's share of accolades heaped upon the show's promising young ensemble cast. Ambitious, multi-talented and fearless as a performer, Wilson was sure to enjoy a lengthy career as both a writer and performer.
Born Cathryn Rose Wilson on Oct. 24, 1980 in Alexandria, VA, she was the daughter of Kathleen and Paul Wilson. Both parents were heavily involved in politics, with Paul working as a consultant on several Republican campaigns, and Kathy serving as the chairwoman of the National Women's Political Caucus throughout the 1980s, until switching her focus to early childhood education later in the decade. As a young girl, Casey's first memorable exposure to theater came when her father took her to New York City for a production of "Cats." Clearly affected by the experience, the young girl was soon performing her own production - "Cats: The Sequel" - for her friends in the neighborhood. Amidst her own political campaign for class president, academic studies and duties on the field hockey team, Wilson remained fixated on performing throughout her school years in Alexandria. Upon graduating from T.C. Williams High School in 1998, she attended the exclusive Stella Adler Studio of Acting at New York University, where she met future writing performing partner, June Raphael, during her sophomore year.
Having graduated from NYU in 2002, Wilson - along with Raphael - began her career as a comedy writer and performer at the acclaimed Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and later in Los Angeles. Over the next several years, she honed her improvisational skills with Upright Citizens, where her and Raphael's long-running sketch show, "Rode Hard and Put Away Wet" went on to become an official selection at HBO's 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. The exceedingly popular show was also spotlighted in Time Out New York magazine as a critic's pick and nabbed Wilson and Raphael the Emerging Comics of New York Award for Best Comedy Duo that same year. As well as her professional life was progressing at the time, personal tragedy struck when Wilson's mother, Kathy, died of as sudden heart attack at the age of 54 in 2005. In memory of her mother's tireless work, Wilson, her father and her brother began the Kathy Wilson Foundation - an organization furthering the cause of preschool children with special needs.
With a smattering of television guest appearances already under her belt, Wilson made her feature film debut with a bit role as an acting student in Christopher Guest's Hollywood-skewering mockumentary, "For Your Consideration" (2006). Behind the scenes, she and Raphael co-wrote episodes for "Creature Comforts American" (CBS, 2007), a U.S. version of the popular U.K. claymation series featuring animals chatting about everyday life. Wilson continued to make incremental progress with small roles in films like the critically-reviled comedy "The Brothers Solomon" (2007) and the John Malkovich-Colin Hanks indie comedy-drama "The Great Buck Howard" (2008). Things then appeared ready to break wide open for Wilson when she was hired to replace the departing Maya Rudolph in early 2008 on that institution of late-night sketch comedy, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). Named one of Variety magazine's "Ten Comics to Watch in 2008," it looked like the beginning of a remarkable tenure for Wilson on "SNL." Unfortunately, while she proved to be an adroit impressionist with her versions of Rachel Ray, Elizabeth Taylor and others, and created such memorable original characters as the paralyzed stripper, Dusty Velvet, by Wilson's own admission, "SNL" was not the best fit for her particular talents and she was let go after her second season.
Disappointed, but undaunted, Wilson rebounded when she and Raphael made their screenwriting debut with "Bride Wars" (2009), a feature comedy about two lifelong best friends (Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway) who become the bitterest of rivals after finding themselves in competition for the same wedding date at the same exclusive location. Despite the predominantly negative reviews - approaching vitriolic levels, in some cases - the film was a moderate success during its theatrical run. In addition to a supporting role in "Bride Wars," Wilson was seen in theaters with turns in the Meryl Streep-Amy Adams culinary comedy-drama "Julie & Julia" (2009) and the Ashton Kutcher-Katherine Heigl romantic action-comedy "Killers" (2010). That same year, Wilson also contributed, along with Raphael, to the book Worst Laid Plans, a short story anthology based on the long-running stage show by the same name performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles.
Wilson found her second chance at breakout success as a member of the ensemble cast of the mid-season sitcom replacement "Happy Endings" (ABC, 2011- ). Starring alongside Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Eliza Coupe, Wilson played the chronically single Penny, a member of a close-knit group of friends whose dynamic is thrown into turmoil when two of their circle (Cuthbert and Knighton) end their romantic relationship. After a rocky start, during which the series was criticized as just another relationship/friends-hanging-out formulaic sitcom, "Happy Endings" began to find its rhythm, winning over both critics and audiences. Receiving much of the praise was Wilson, who was lauded for her fearless portrayal of the increasingly desperate, yet eternally optimistic Penny. Although the series was beloved by a devoted cult audience, wider support never appeared, and ABC canceled the show after its third season. However, in September 2013, Wilson announced her engagement to the show's co-creator, David Caspe.
By Ela Lindsay and Bryce Coleman