What is Ellen Cleghorne’s Net Worth?
Ellen Cleghorne is an American actress and comedian who has a net worth of $500 thousand. Ellen Cleghorne is best known for being a cast member on the TV series Saturday Night Live. She was the second African-American female to be selected as a repertory cast member on the show. Cleghorne was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1991 to 1995. She was known for her recurring character Queen Shenequa and did impressions of Dr. Dre, Florence Griffith Joyner, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, Tina Turner, Woody Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, and more. She starred in her own television series “Cleghorne!” in 1995. Cleghorne also starred in the movies Mr. Wrong, Dear God, Rescuing Desire, Armageddon, The Million Dollar Hotel, Coyote Ugly, Little Nicky, Old School, and Grown Ups 2.
Cleghorne was born on November 29, 1965 in New York City. She specifically grew up in the Red Hood Projects in Brooklyn. She was a very bright child and enjoyed entertaining people from a young age. After finishing high school, she attended Hunter College, from where she graduated in the late 1980s.
After finishing college, Cleghorne began performing at local comedy clubs in New York. In 1989, she competed in the Johnnie Walker Comedy Search. For one of her pieces on the show, she was directed in a video by “Saturday Night Live” short film producer, Neal Marshad. Over the next couple of years, she continued performing in clubs and also appeared on “Def Comedy Jam,” in addition to landing minor roles in the second season of “In Living Color.”
While on “In Living Color,” Cleghorne was discovered by the producers of “Saturday Night Live.” She auditioned for the show and was invited to join the cast in 1991. She would remain on the show for four seasons until she decided to leave in 1995.
Saturday Night Live
During Cleghorne’s time on “SNL,” she performed a number of impressions of people like Dr. Dre, Anita Baker, Toni Morrison, Whoopi Goldberg, Marla Gibbs, Natalie Cole, and Mary J. Blige, among others. She also developed two recurring characters: Zoraida, who worked as an NBC page, and Queen Shenequa, who often would appear on the “Weekend Update” sketch. As Queen Shenequa, Clegborne often provided commentary on stories and topics having to do with race and usually dressed in traditional African garb.
Clegborne was only the third woman of cover to be credited on “Saturday Night Live” and only the second to be a full-time cast member, following Yvonne Hudson and Danitra Vance. She was also the first black woman to remain on the show as a full cast member for longer than a single season. Clegborne’s time on the show was historic, though it was reported that she did not always get along with all of her fellow cast members. However, other former cast members have refuted that statement, though Clegborne has described a number of challenges associated with being on the show, especially as one of the few minority cast members.
During her time on “SNL,” Cleghorne also made a number of appearances on the Nickelodeon children’s show, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete.” She played the character of a bus driver who served as the love interest of another bus driver.
In 1995, Clegborne decided to leave “SNL” to star as a single mother in the show “Cleghorne!”. In the show, she played character Ellen Carlson. The show aired for one season on The WB network and also starred “SNL” alumnus Garrett Morris, as well as Sherri Shephard in her first acting role. In speaking about the show and why it concluded so rapidly, Cleghorne has said she doesn’t think she was ready to have her own show as she lacked the creative confidence to make the types of decisions she would have liked to make.
Cleghorne has also appeared in a number of films. She had a role in “Armageddon” in 1998 and then appeared in “Coyote Ugly” and “Little Nicky” in 2000. In 2003, she had a role in the comedy film, “Old School.” She also wrote a number of skits that were played on Sirius XM Radio’s Raw Dog Comedy.
Her acting career has continued into the 2010s. She appeared in a small role in “Grown Ups 2” in 2013. She was also one of the contestants on “Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition” in 2015. She ultimately finished the competition in third place. The same year, she appeared in the 40th anniversary special of “Saturday Night Live.” She described being able to go back to “SNL” as a “cleansing” experience. In 2018, Cleghorne appeared as the character Shaniqua in “Second Act.”
Cleghorne decided to return to school in the mid-2000s, enrolling in the master’s and then Ph.D. program at New York University’ Tisch School of the Arts. She received her Ph.D. in performance studies from NYU in 2014. She teaches at Graceland University.
While she has focused her career on academia, Cleghorne continues to audition and still writes comedy.
Cleghorne has kept her personal life out of the public eye. She has not been romantically connected to anyone over the years that she has been in the spotlight. However, a relationship she was in in the 1980s did result in her having a daughter in 1982. Her daughter’s name is Akeyla. Akeyla appeared aa an extra on several sketches in “SNL” while Cleghorne was on the show from 1991 until 1995.
[Photo of Ellen Cleghorne by Airman 1st Class Nathan Doza/wikicommons/creative commons]