Timeline: Busy Philipps Is an Overnight Success 20 Years in the Making

The actress's ascent has been slow but steady

Philipps in Cougar Town Getty Images

From playing Kim Kelly, everyone’s favorite Freak, to a stint as an ER intern, an award-winning turn in Cougar Town and a tasty soup endorsement, Busy Philipps has paid her dues and then some.

Here’s a timeline of her slow but steady ascent:

Also, be sure to check out Adweek’s cover story, How Busy Philipps Spun Her Intimate, Wildly Popular Instagram Stories Into E!’s Newest Talk Show

Getty Images

Freaks and Geeks, Kim Kelly, 1999-2000
As a tough-but-tender freak in Judd Apatow’s adolescent angst fest, Busy Philipps represented outsiders everywhere. 

Dawson’s Creek, Audrey Liddell, 2001-2003
The CW’s teen soap introduced her to future BFF Michelle Williams.

White Chicks, Karen, 2004
Fourteen years before the infamous Girls Trip dance-floor battle, Philipps and her crew stepped up in this Wayans Brothers comedy.

Getty Images

ER, Hope Bobeck, 2006-2007
After years of playing bad girls, the role of Hope Bobeck, a born-again Christian medical intern, was just what the doctor ordered. 

Getty Images

Blades of Glory, co-writer, 2007
Philipps came up with the premise for the box-office hit, about a rivalry between figure skaters, and earned co-writing credit.

Made of Honor, Melissa, 2008
Philipps played a vengeful bridesmaid who makes her ex’s (Patrick Dempsey’s) life miserable through most of this romcom.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Kacy Corbin, 2008-2009
In real life, she was eight months pregnant. On screen, she was seven months in and a landlord to the title character.

He’s Just Not That into You, Kelli Ann, 2009
Another year, another romantic comedy. In this one, Philipps made a brief but seductive appearance.   

Getty Images

Cougar Town, Laurie Keller, 2009-2015
Philipps’ brassy, hilarious performance in the ABC comedy series earned her a 2011 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress.


Vice Principals, Gale Liptrapp, 2016-2017
As the wife of one of the titular school leaders, she was a voice of sanity, and a source of I’m-so-over-it eye rolls.

Campbell’s Well Yes! endorsement, 2016
Asked to promote a line of health-conscious, ready-to-eat soups, Philipps said, well, yes.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Sheba Goodman, 2018
Philipps cameoed as the daughter of Lillian’s (Carol Kane’s) former boyfriend in Tina Fey’s quirky Netflix comedy.


I Feel Pretty, Jane, 2018
For her role as bestie to Amy Schumer’s Renee, Philipps went brunette‚ and went to bat for the comedy amid criticism that it was sending the wrong message.

Simon & Schuster

This Will Only Hurt a Little, 2018
None other than The New Yorker called her best-selling memoir “hilarious, heartfelt and refreshingly honest,” adjectives that seem to follow Philipps around.


This story first appeared in the November 12, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
kristina.feliciano@adweek.com Kristina Feliciano is the features editor at Adweek.