Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most successful actresses in American television history, winning more Emmy Awards and more Screen Actors Guild Awards than any other performer. At 21, Louis-Dreyfus joined “Saturday Night Live," making her the youngest female cast member in the show's long history. But her breakthrough role came in 1990, when she was cast as Elaine on the television show "Seinfeld," which ran for nine seasons and became one of the most critically and commercially successful sitcoms of all time. Her other notable television roles include Christine Campbell in "The New Adventures of Old Christine," which had a five-season run on CBS, and Selina Meyer in "Veep," which ran for seven seasons on HBO. In fact, she is the only actress to ever win Emmy Awards for three separate comedy series. In 2018, adding to her collection of awards, she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, presented by the Kennedy Center as America's highest comedy honor.

While Louis-Dreyfus was always interested in acting and comedy, she never really saw herself as a performer until she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. At Northwestern, she studied theatre and was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority. But it was during her freshman year that she laid the groundwork for her future career by landing a part in the Mee-Ow Show, a student-run improv and sketch comedy revue. In addition to Mee-Ow, she also starred in a wide variety of campus productions, including "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" (with co-starred Bruce Norris ’82, who went on to win a Pulitzer for drama playwriting), and Harold Pinter’s "Betrayal," among others.

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“I auditioned for everything, and I tried to do everything I could,” Louis-Dreyfus said in an interview with Northwestern's alumni magazine. “All I was interested in doing was theater.”

As a result, it didn't take long for the entertainment industry to notice. And during her junior year, Louis-Dreyfus dropped out of school to take a job at "Saturday Night Live."

Since leaving, Louis-Dreyfus has continued to support her alma mater in numerous ways. In 2012, while on campus to speak with Northwestern students about her life as an actress, she learned about the School of Communication’s Sitcom Project, which she eventually helped fund. Additionally, the actress added a degree to her trophy case in 2007 when Northwestern awarded her an honorary Doctor of Arts from the School of Communication’s Theatre department for her work in Hollywood. As part of the ceremony, Louis-Dreyfus also delivered the commencement speech that year. With her self-deprecating humor on full display, she described herself as “an aging sitcom actress," before urging the graduates to "do good" in the world. “What you may not do is nothing,” she said. “You have no right to apathy. Act, or the world ends.”