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2012 Time 100: Kristen Wiig

I remember seeing Kristen Wiig on her first episode of Saturday Night Live. I don’t remember the sketch, I just remember her. She was so confident and funny right out of the gate. You would have thought she had been on the show for years. She was instantly one of my all-time favorite cast members.

The same thing seems to have happened with the film Bridesmaids. It’s her first starring role, and she is fantastic — vulnerable, explosive and hilarious. Kristen, 38, was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. Her first screenplay — insightful, brave, groundbreaking and also hilarious. Kristen and her wonderful partner Annie Mumolo are nominated for an Academy Award.

She never thought she was making a statement about women in comedy. Of course women in comedy have always been brilliant. Look at her old SNL castmates Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey. And that is just the women on one show!

For her, it was just about making a movie she could be proud of, and she labored over it tirelessly for half a decade. I guess coming fast out of the gate requires years of hard work that nobody but me gets to see. I am the lucky one.

© 2012 Judd Apatow, TIME.