Magazine article The Humanist

Humanist Profile: Julia Sweeney: (1961-Present): Comedian and 2006 Humanist Pioneer

Magazine article The Humanist

Humanist Profile: Julia Sweeney: (1961-Present): Comedian and 2006 Humanist Pioneer

Article excerpt

"Thank goodness there is a Humanist organization so that we can identify ourselves as part of a group. Because, it's true, we're group-seeking animals ... we need groups and we need names for our groups, and it's a really efficient way for telling people what we stand for."

--Julia Sweeney, upon accepting the Humanist Pioneer Award from the American Humanist Association.

Actress and Comedian Julia Sweeney was born and raised in Spokane, Washington, as the oldest of five children. In that upbringing she honed her talent for character acting and imitating voices. After studying economics at the University of Washington she headed to Los Angeles to work as an accountant for Columbia Pictures. While performing in L.A. with an improv acting troupe, where she realized her desire to become an actress, she developed her well-known characters such as "Mea" of Mea's Big Apology and the androgynous "Pat" of Saturday Night Live. It was during one improv performance that she was discovered by SNL and spent four seasons on the show (1990-1994), first as a featured player and then as a regular cast member. In 1994 her cult comedy film, It's Pat, was released.

Within a year after returning to Los Angeles from New York City, Julia Sweeney and her brother Michael were both diagnosed with cancer. Though Michael didn't survive lymphatic cancer, Julia survived cervical cancer. Her experiences of having her parents move in while caring for her brother and overcoming her own cancer led her to write and perform the one-woman monologue, God Said, Ha! …

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