CARBONDALE — Two-time Emmy Award winner Melissa McCarthy is coming back to her roots to receive an honorary doctorate of performing arts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s May 2019 commencement.
Known for her ingenious comedic performances in movies such as “Bridesmaids,” “Tammy” and “The Heat,” McCarthy’s journey started as a fashion design major at SIU. Before starring in her hit movies, she studied in New York and then joined the legendary Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings, spending nine years as a main-stage member.
In addition to her Emmy Awards, McCarthy received her first academy award nomination for her comedic portrayal as Megan in the popular romantic comedy “Bridesmaids.” The role also won her the Inaugural People’s Icon Award at the 2018 People’s Choice Awards, along with the coveted Comedic Genius Award from MTV.
Most recently, she has received nominations for an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Critics Choice Movie Award and a Golden Globe award for her 2019 hit movie “Can You Ever Forgive Me.”
While McCarthy’s first big role came as the clumsy culinary genius Sookie St. James on the hit WB series “Gilmore Girls” in 2000, her road to fame started long before then. A native of Plainfield, Illinois, McCarthy came to SIU in 1988 for fashion design and merchandising.
She left for New York after two years, furthering her fashion studies and performing stand-up at places such as The Duplex, The Improv and Stand-Up New York.
In addition to her impressive acting career, McCarthy returned to her designer roots and created a clothing line, Melissa McCarthy Seven7, that is sold at Nordstrom, Macy’s and the Home Shopping Network.
McCarthy’s connection to SIU goes even deeper than the years she spent in school, as her husband, Ben Falcone, is a Carbondale native. While the two met while performing and studying at the renowned Groundlings Theatre and School in Los Angeles, they both lived in Carbondale at the same time.
Falcone is a Carbondale Community High School graduate, with his parents still living in the area. Those roots snuck into McCarthy’s professional career, with the opening scene of her hit movie “Tammy” being set in Murphysboro, Illinois.
After gaining fans and attention for her years with the Gilmore Girls, McCarthy landed the lead role on the show “Mike and Molly,” earning her first Emmy Award and two additional nominations. She received a second Emmy Award and four additional nominations after hosting Saturday Night Live five times.
Her most meme-worthy role in “Bridesmaids” also earned her BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and SAG Award nominations, along with the MTV Movie Award for Comedic Performance of the Year. Her accolades also include multiple nominations for Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, People’s Choice Award for her acting and producing work.
Currently living in Los Angeles, McCarthy works with her husband in their production company, On the Day Production, producing famed movies such as “Tammy,” “The Boss,” “Life of the Party” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me.”
McCarthy’s current productions includes her work on “The Kitchen” alongside Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, which will hit theaters this summer. With Falcone at the helm again, the couple are also hard at work on “Super Intelligence,” coming out this holiday season.
Commencement is Saturday, May 11, and is divided into three ceremonies. McCarthy will receive an honorary doctor of performing arts degree at the 5:30 p.m. commencement celebration.
9 a.m. ceremony: College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science, School of Medicine.
1:30 p.m. ceremony: College of Business, College of Education and Human Services.
5:30 p.m. ceremony: College of Applied Sciences and Arts, College of Engineering, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.
For more information on the 2019 commencement, go to commencement.siu.edu.