Chicago actress Nora Dunn opens up about her time on SNL, her career

Chicago born actress Nora Dunn has had a career spanning more than three decades. She gained her fame on “Saturday Night Live” at a time when the male-dominated comedy industry wasn't always welcoming to women.

Now, she’s talking with FOX 32 about her career and standing up for herself long before the #MeToo movement existed.

“Saturday Night Live” has kicked off the careers of names that include Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Gilda Radner and Chicago’s own Nora Dunn.

"I wasn't expecting it. I had never had it in my sights,” she said.

She grew up on Chicago’s west side with three brothers and two sisters. Her dad was a local actor and her mother a surgical nurse.

At a young age, she tried out for “SNL” in Chicago and much to her surprise, she was hired.

FOX 32 caught up with her at her favorite Chicago restaurant, “La Scarola,” and we were hosted by owner Armando Vasquez.

Dunn worked on “SNL” for five years, playing a variety of roles but it was her final year that she made an  unexpected impact. Not from one of her skits, but from refusing to perform the same night controversial comedian Andre Dice Clay was scheduled to host. It was something she didn't want to talk about for years, but is now very proud of.

"It was a very difficult time. I just simply said I’m not going to get on stage with this guy. This is my playground. He may not be in my playground,” Dunn said. “It wasn't about the language. It was because of the message, women were for nothing, women were there to be abused, to be raped.”

“I didn't think anything was going to come from it,” she added. "I didn't work at all for that year. I wanted to leave New York and I wasn't sure what I was going to do at the time. I didn’t know if I wanted to be in show-biz. I got thousands and thousands of letters and heard from famous people -- Lilly Tomlin and a lot of people.”

The work eventually did come back. Dunn went on to appear as a regular in several popular TV shows, including “Sisters” and “The Nanny.” Since then, she's written and performed two one-woman shows, authored a book of comic fiction and works regularly in TV and film with an impressive list of dozens of credits.

That include HBO’s hit “Entourage,” “It's Complicated” with Meryl Streep, and most recently the Netflix movie “Boy Genius.”

Dunn has two more movies in the pipeline.