The Saturday Night Live star stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday and revealed that it wasn't until she began impersonating the talk show host in sketches that she finally faced her fear of dancing.
"I refused to dance," McKinnon said. "I thought, 'No, I'm too strange. They'll laugh. They'll all laugh at me.' And then I saw you dancing, and you dance funny and also like cool and hot and stuff… That really influenced my dancing moving forward in my life."
She added, "You helped with a lot of stuff."
The Bombshell star then gave a heartfelt send-off to DeGeneres, whose two decades in daytime TV are coming to a close. McKinnon marked the occasion by reading a letter her 13-year-old self would have written DeGeneres.
"My favorite memory from this show is maybe right now," McKinnon said. "By way of thanking you, I wanted to read you a letter that I would've written to you when I was 13."
She continued: "Dear Mrs. DeGeneres, my name is Kate. I'm from Long Island. It's come to my attention that I am gay as hell. No one else is gay for 200,000 miles, so it's nice to know that you exist. I bet if I ever met you I would act so weird, so I hope I never do. Thank you for being so funny and such an inspiration and making me feel less alone. P.S. My iguana isn't eating, what do I do?"
Ava Williams/NBC/NBCU Photobank Kate McKinnon as Ellen DeGeneres on 'Saturday Night Live'
McKinnon also revisited the moment when DeGeneres reached out after her first time doing the SNL impression. "Imagine me — I'm from Long Island, this is my idol — and then she calls me on the phone and I'm like, in the hallway at work, and I'm like, 'Yes, Ms. DeGeneres, I'm a fan,'" she recalled. She was later invited to appear on DeGeneres' show and reprise the impression.
McKinnon, 38, has been vocal about her adoration of DeGeneres in the past. In 2020 she presented DeGeneres with the Carol Burnett Award at the Golden Globes, declaring her "the greatest comedian of all time" and thanking her for changing her and "so many people's lives."