For years Melissa McCarthy played the sidekick – the funny best friend, the quirky advice-giver. And then in her 40s – at an age when Hollywood often starts overlooking many actresses – McCarthy hit it big.
Her breakout, Oscar-nominated role came in 2011's "Bridesmaids," in which she played a ribald member of a wedding party who burps in public and has an affinity for Dockers. She's since become the movie business' go-to leading lady, starring in four big comedies including "The Heat" and this summer's "Spy."
A native of Illinois, the 44-year-old honed her comedy chops as a part of Los Angeles' famed Groundlings improv troupe. She began performing with the group in 1997 alongside Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote "Bridesmaids." While gaining a following at the Melrose Avenue club, McCarthy was cast in a number of supporting roles – most notably on the television series "Gilmore Girls," where she played a small-town chef for all seven seasons.
Nowadays, she carries her own TV show – "Mike & Molly," the CBS sitcom about a couple who met at an Overeaters Anonymous group. Her performance on the program earned her two Emmy nominations and one win; she's also scored three nominations for her hosting gigs on "Saturday Night Live."
Though she's recognized mostly for her comedic work, McCarthy seems to be interested in diversifying her career. In fact, before she moved to L.A. she spent eight years in New York City appearing in mostly serious plays. Her first notable dramatic role came in 2014's "St. Vincent," in which she played a working single mom struggling to balance her personal and professional life opposite Bill Murray.
McCarthy is married to actor-director Ben Falcone, whom she met during her stint at the Groundlings. The couple live in Los Angeles and have two daughters.