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Melissa McCarthy has been a cornerstone of the comedy scene for nearly two decades. She’s undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the world right now, and never fails to make audiences laugh when she’s on screen. With the release of her latest film, Life of the Party, on the horizon, it’s clear that she’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Her path to stardom is a good story. Before Life of the Party arrives, let’s take a look back at McCarthy’s journey to success, to see how she became Hollywood’s queen of comedy.

It All Began In Stars Hollow

[Credit: The WB]

Melissa McCarthy began her career in the late ’90s, making guest appearances in movies and TV shows. Her big breakthrough came when she was cast as Sookie St. James in the WB series Gilmore Girls. With her giddy personality and hilariously clumsy mannerisms, McCarthy’s portrayal of Sookie catapulted her to stardom. The Stars Hollow chef became one of the show’s most beloved characters. She remained with the series until the very end, while also making time to appear in films throughout its seven year run.

After Gilmore Girls ended, McCarthy appeared in the popular but short-lived sitcom Samantha Who?. But in 2010, she was cast as the lead in another sitcom, Mike & Molly. The show placed her firmly back in the public eye and ran for an impressive six seasons. Moreover, McCarthy’s portrayal of hilarious teacher Molly Flynn earned more acclaim; she even won an Emmy Award for her performance.

Despite a decade of significant success on television, her flourishing career had yet to peak.

A Bridesmaids Breakthrough

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

Although McCarthy was busy on the small screen with Mike & Molly, that didn’t stop her from heading to the big screen. And this commitment eventually led to her film breakthrough. In 2011, she appeared in comedy movie Bridesmaids, alongside Kristen Wiig. The film received critical acclaim and was a major hit at the box-office, with fans and critics citing McCarthy as one of the standouts. And, in many ways, this was the moment that really solidified her as a comedy powerhouse.

Keeping up the momentum, McCarthy made appearances in other comedy films such as This Is 40 and The Hangover Part III. But she got the opportunity to play the leading role in 2013’s Identity Thief. Despite the film’s negative reviews, critics praised McCarthy’s hilarious performance, and it was clear that she was making a major impact on Hollywood.

She then reunited with Bridesmaids director, Paul Feig, when she starred in The Heat, alongside legendary comedy actress Sandra Bullock. Like her previous films, it performed well, proving that McCarthy had indeed become box-office gold.

Is There Anything She Can’t Do?

After the success of The Heat, McCarthy set her sights on her next project. However, this time she took things to the next level and teamed up with her husband, Ben Falcone, to co-write, produce and star in Tammy. Once again, the film proved to be a box-office hit and grossed over $100 million.  And the hits just kept on coming, with her next films St. Vincent and Spy both becoming critical and commercial successes — the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

After scoring another success with her husband’s film, The Boss, she then landed a leading role in the all-female Ghostbusters reboot (which reunited her with Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig). Although the film didn’t perform well, McCarthy and the rest of the cast received praise for their comedic performances.

Despite her incredibly busy schedule, she she made time to return to the role that made her famous in Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival A Year In The Life.

Life Of The Party is only the latest in a growing collection of Melissa McCarthy-led comedies. With her quick-witted deliveries and eccentric performances, the veteran actress never fails to make us laugh when she’s on our screens. In her two decade-long career, she worked her way to the top and is now undoubtedly Hollywood’s queen of comedy. Long may she reign.

Life of the Party hits theaters on May 11, 2018.