Kate McKinnon wrote her emotional Golden Globes speech for Ellen DeGeneres on a plane

Ellen DeGeneres, left, accepts the Carol Burnett Award from presenter Kate McKinnon at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
(Paul Drinkwater / NBC)

How does one begin to write a Golden Globes speech for a living comedy legend that will bring an audience to tears?

On the plane ride over, apparently, if you’re Kate McKinnon.

During Sunday’s ceremony in Los Angeles, the New York-based “Saturday Night Live” star delivered some of the most memorable words of the night while presenting the Carol Burnett Award to Ellen DeGeneres, opening up about her struggle to accept her own sexuality.

The next day, however, McKinnon revealed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” just how much she procrastinated before drafting the touching tribute.


“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself,” she told the host, noting that DeGeneres has received honors in the past from the likes of President Obama. “And then it was like a month leading up to it, and I was like, ‘Ah, gosh, I gotta write that speech. I gotta write that speech.’ And instead I cleaned my closets. You have no idea what you did for me and my closet. ... I found space that I didn’t even know I had.”

“So when did you write the speech?” DeGeneres prodded.

“On the plane,” McKinnon admitted to laughs from the audience. “I thought, well, now I’ve really got to. I’m down to the wire here.”

DeGeneres was the second person to accept the TV honor, after its living namesake, who was seated at the table with her and McKinnon during the event. Also at their table was musical power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z, which made McKinnon’s first-ever trip to the Globes that much more momentous.

“I mean, they’re the king and queen of America,” McKinnon gushed. “My sister and I found out that we were going to be at their table and started panicking and making a list of, like, ‘Well, what can we say?’”

According to McKinnon, her date had no issue approaching the pair and striking up a conversation. The “Bombshell” actress was not so brave.

“I just pretended I had something on my pants,” she joked, pantomiming the act. “So I blew it. I blew it.”


When DeGeneres pointed out that McKinnon meets celebrities all the time thanks to “SNL’s” revolving door of famous hosts, McKinnon simply replied, “Not Beyoncé.”

“We all know that’s different,” she added.

McKinnon held back tears as she presented the special Globe award to DeGeneres, recounting how the daytime star’s groundbreaking 1990s sitcom helped her overcome her fear of being fully herself. In 2012, the comic and actress became the first openly lesbian “SNL” cast member.

“That’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself,” she said. “It’s sort of like doing 23andMe and discovering that you have alien DNA, and the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV.”

As she continued her poignant tribute, several attendees rose to their feet.

“She risked her entire life and her entire career in order to tell the truth and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jumped into the fire to make that change,” McKinnon said.

“And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.’ And more than that, I would’ve gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here.”