For Oak Park native Cecily Strong, her debut season as an "Saturday Night Life" ensemble member marked a "dream job" come true.
After honing her acting chops on the Chicago scene -- studying at both Second City Conservatory and iO Chicago -- she made her first appearance on "SNL" last September and completed her first season with the ensemble last month.
Strong, who now lives in New York City, described the experience as "insanely wonderful," particularly when it came to the recurring porn star sketch she appears in with cast mate Vanessa Bayer.
"Vanessa and I get to do little subtle things that I like to spot later on while watching the [porn star] sketch online," she said. "I don't watch everything afterward, though. It's terrible to hear my voice or feel like I look fat or whatever dumb things girls' mean brains tell them, but I do love to watch the porn star sketches."
With "SNL" on summer break, Strong told HuffPost she is busy working on a new sketch/improv show with fellow Second City alum Sam Richardson as well as working on some screenplays with friends "to find out if screenwriting is something I'm good at. Jury's still out," she says.
This week, Strong returned to Chicago to perform in "Knuckleheads," a sketch/improv show, with fellow "SNL"ers and former Chicagoans Tim Robinson and Aidy Bryant as part of TBS' Just For Laughs Chicago festival. The show concludes its run with two performances at UP Comedy Club Saturday evening.
HuffPost Chicago recently asked Strong to open up more about her Chicago-area roots by taking part in our My Chicago questionnaire.
What is your age? What is your occupation? I'm 29 and I'm an actress.
What was your first job in Chicago? I started doing professional theater and industrials in Chicago when I was a little squirt. My first real non-acting job was at the Buzz Cafe in Oak Park when I was 15. I had to start as a dishwasher, but eventually I worked my way up to barista and sometimes waitress.
Which Chicago "celebrity" -- living or dead, real or fictional -- would you have over for dinner? What would you talk about? I'm a huge Bulls fan. I like an emotional backstory while watching sports. In my mind, all the players on the Bulls are really nice, decent guys. Especially that Derrick Rose. So maybe I'd have them all over for dinner and I'd tell them how great I think they all are. And how much I like to yell "Deng!" I would also tell Jo Noah and Nate Robinson that I wanted to play them in a sketch when Kevin Hart hosted.
What is your favorite “last call” bar in Chicago? Old Town Ale House for sure. They've seen me at my worst and never judged me.
Where is your favorite place to grab brunch in the city? I like doing Mother's Day brunch at Kit Kat Lounge. Otherwise, Nookies in Old Town.
What are/were your go-to spots when you have visitors in town? I guess they'd have to go see shows at iO and Second City. Maybe dinner at Old Jerusalem.
If you had to have your last Chicago meal for some tragic reason, where and what would it be? This question is sad because it means either I'm about to die or Chicago is about to disappear. But I guess I would go to Gaudi Cafe on Ashland and Erie. It's my absolute favorite restaurant. The owners are sisters named Betty and Veronica. It's BYOB which I always love, and the food is insanely good. Everyone go there! I never want that restaurant to close.
Cubs or Sox? Sox. Easy. Especially after working in the box office at iO and having to walk through drunk Cubs fans. I've never felt such blind hatred and rage at strangers. I know Sox fans are not great, but I didn't have to walk through a bunch of drunk ones every week.
Wicker Park, 1993 or Wicker Park, 2013? Hmm… can I say Wicker Park, 2000? I used to like to go into the city in high school and pretend I was cool.
Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago-style pizza or Chicago-style politics? Pizza. Lou Malnati's.
What advice would you give to a new Chicago transplant? Go watch comedy. It's the best city for it. And eat at Gaudi Cafe on Ashland and Erie.
What do you miss the most when you're not in Chicago? I love New York, but I don't like how it smells like hot pee and garbage in the summer. I feel like Chicago isn't that way. Maybe I'm just being romantic.
If you could change just one thing about our fair city what would it be? The winter wouldn't hurt so much.
Describe Chicago in one word. It's not one word. My brain is exhausted waiting in this airport because the weather in Chicago sucks, of course, so my flight got delayed and cancelled. But I think the best way to describe a Chicago attitude is that we are not into show-offs. Even though I read somewhere that we have the most vanity plates.
In 1951's "Chicago: City on the Make," Nelson Algren wrote: "Once you've come to be a part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real." Through My Chicago, HuffPost is discussing what, to this day, makes the patch we call home so lovely and so broken with some of the city's most compelling characters.
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