Tina Fey

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Tina Fey

Fey at the Muppets Most Wanted Premiere on March 11, 2014
Born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey
May 18, 1970 (1970-05-18) (age 44)
Upper Darby, Pennsylvania,
United States
Occupation Actress, comedienne, writer, producer
Years active 1998–present
Spouse Jeff Richmond (m. 2001–present)

Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey (pronounced /ˈfeɪ/; born May 18, 1970) is an American actress, comedienne, writer, and producer. She has received seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Writers Guild of America Awards. She was called the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008 by the Associated Press. They gave her their AP Entertainer of the Year award.[1]

Fey graduated from the University of Virginia in 1992. She then moved to Chicago to take classes at the improvisational comedy group The Second City. She became a featured player there in 1994. Three years later, Fey became a writer for the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). She was promoted to the position of head writer in 1999. The following year, Fey was added to the cast of SNL. During her time there, she was co-anchor of the show's Weekend Update. After leaving SNL in 2006, she created her own television series called 30 Rock. The show is a situation comedy somewhat based on her experiences at SNL. In the show, Fey plays the head writer of a fictional sketch comedy show.

In 2004, Fey made her movie debut as writer and co-star of the teen comedy Mean Girls. In 2008, she starred in the comedy movie Baby Mama, with Amy Poehler. In 2009, Fey won an Emmy Award for her satirical portrayal of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a guest appearance on SNL.

Early life[change | change source]

Fey was born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a township just outside of Philadelphia. Her mother is Zenovia "Jeanne" (née Xenakes),[2][3] a brokerage employee of Greek ancestry.[4] Her father is Donald Fey, a university grant proposal-writer of German and Scottish ancestry.[2][5] She has a brother, who is eight years older, named Peter.[2][6]

Fey was exposed to comedy early. She recalls:

I remember my parents sneaking me in to see Young Frankenstein. We would also watch Saturday Night Live, or Monty Python, or old Marx Brothers movies. My dad would let us stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. We were not allowed to watch The Flintstones though: my dad hated it because it ripped off The Honeymooners.[7] I actually have a very low level of Flintstones knowledge for someone my age.[8]

She also grew up watching Second City Television (SCTV) and says Catherine O'Hara is one of her role models.[9]

Fey attended Cardington Elementary School and Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby.[10] By middle school, she knew she was interested in comedy. She did an independent-study project on the subject in eighth grade.[7] Fey attended Upper Darby High School. There she was an honor student,[11] a member of the choir, drama club, and tennis team. She was also co-editor of the school's newspaper.[11][12] After her graduation in 1988,[10][13] Fey enrolled at the University of Virginia. She studied playwriting and acting there.[14] She graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama.[15]

Career[change | change source]

Early career[change | change source]

After graduating, Fey first had plans to do graduate work in drama at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. But "I just got this feeling like it wasn't going to work out ... [that] they were going to take my money and then cut me from the program."[16] She moved to Chicago anyway, knowing about the improvisational comedy group, The Second City. She took night classes at Second City.[17] She had a day job working at the front desk of a YMCA in Evanston to pay for her classes.[17][18] Once her Second City training began, she became highly involved in the "cult of improvisation".[17] She became, as she called it later, "like one of those athletes trying to get into the Olympics. It was all about blind focus. I was so sure that I was doing exactly what I'd been put on this earth to do, and I would have done anything to make it onto that stage. Not because of SNL, but because I wanted to devote my life to improv. I would have been perfectly happy to stay at Second City forever."[17]

In 1994, she joined the cast of The Second City. She performed eight shows a week, for two years.[17] She was also in the revues Citizen Gates (1996)[19] and Paradigm Lost (1997.,[20] She performed with Scott Adsit, Kevin Dorff, Rachel Dratch, Jenna Jolovitz, and Jim Zulevic.[21][22] Improvisation became an important part of her understanding of what it means to be an actress, as she noted in an interview for The Believer in November 2003:[17]

When I started, improv had the biggest impact on my acting. I studied the usual acting methods at college – Stanislavsky and whatnot. But none of it really clicked for me. My problem with the traditional acting method was that I never understood what you were supposed to be thinking about when you're onstage. But at Second City, I learned that your focus should be entirely on your partner. You take what they're giving you and use it to build a scene. That opened it up for me. Suddenly it all made sense. It's about your partner. Not what you're going to say, not finding the perfect mannerisms or tics for your character, not what you're going to eat later. Improv helped to distract me from my usual stage bullshit and put my focus somewhere else so that I could stop acting. I guess that's what method acting is supposed to accomplish anyway. It distracts you so that your body and emotions can work freely. Improv is just a version of method acting that works for me.

While in Chicago, Fey also made what she later called an "amateurish" try at stand-up comedy.[7] She also performed at the ImprovOlympic theater.[23]

Saturday Night Live (1998–2006)[change | change source]

While performing shows with the Second City in 1997, Fey sent several scripts to NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL). She had been asked to send them by SNL's head writer Adam McKay. McKay was a former performer at Second City.[4] She was hired as a writer[24] for SNL following a meeting with SNL creator Lorne Michaels. Fey moved to New York.[25] She told The New Yorker, "I’d had my eye on the show forever, the way other kids have their eye on Derek Jeter."[4] At first, Fey "struggled" at SNL.[25] Her first sketch to air starred Chris Farley in a Sally Jessy Raphael satire.[25] Fey went on to write a series of parodies. This included one of ABC's morning talk show The View.[26] She co-wrote the "Sully and Denise" sketches with Rachel Dratch,[25] who plays one of the teens.[26]

Fey played an extra in one of the episodes in 1998.[27] After watching herself, she decided to diet.[28] By dieting she lost 30 pounds. She told The New York Times, "I was a completely normal weight. But I was here in New York City, I had money and I couldn't buy any clothes. After I lost weight, there was interest in putting me on camera."[29] In 1999, McKay quit as head writer. Michaels asked Fey to replace McKay.[25] She became SNL's first female head writer.[30] Fey does not make a big deal about this accomplishment because there have not been very many head writers.[30]

In 2000, Fey began performing in sketches.[4] She and Jimmy Fallon became co-anchors of SNL's Weekend Update segment.[31] Fey admitted she did not ask to audition, but that Michaels asked her to do it.[28][32] Michaels explained that there was "chemistry" (connection) between Fey and Fallon.[32] Michaels, however, said that choosing Fey was "kind of risky" at the time.[33] Her role in Weekend Update was well received by critics. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "...Fey delivers such blow darts – poison filled jokes written in long, precisely parsed sentences unprecedented in Update history – with such a bright, sunny countenance makes her all the more devilishly delightful."[34] Dennis Miller, a former cast member of SNL and anchor of Weekend Update, was pleased with Fey as one of the anchors for the segment: "...Fey might be the best Weekend Update anchor who ever did it. She writes the funniest jokes".[35] Robert Bianco of USA Today, however, commented that he was "not enamored" with the pairing.[36]

In 2001, Fey and the writing staff won a Writers Guild of America Award for SNL's 25th anniversary special.[4] The following year at the 2002 Emmy Awards ceremony, she and the writing team won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.[37]

The pairing of Fey and Fallon ended in May 2004. Fallon left the show at the end of that season.[38] He was replaced by Amy Poehler.[39] It was the first time that two women co-anchored Weekend Update.[40] Fey revealed that she "hired" Poehler as her co-host for the segment.[41] The reception to the teaming of Fey and Poehler was positive. Rachel Sklar of the Chicago Tribune noting that the pairing "has been a hilarious, pitch-perfect success as they play off each other with quick one-liners and deadpan delivery".[39]

The 2005-2006 season was Fey's last. After it she left to make 30 Rock.[42]

30 Rock (2006–present)[change | change source]

Fey filming an episode of 30 Rock at Rockefeller Center in October 2007.

In 2002, Fey suggested a pilot episode for a situation comedy about a cable news network to NBC, who rejected it. The pilot was written again to focus on an SNL style series. It was accepted by NBC.[43] She signed a contract with NBC in May 2003. It allowed her to remain in her SNL head writer position at least through the 2004–2005 television season. As part of the contract, Fey was to develop a primetime project to be produced by Broadway Video and NBC Universal.[44] She began developing the pilot project under the working title Untitled Tina Fey Project.[45] The pilot, directed by Adam Bernstein,[46] centered on the head writer of a variety show and how she managed her relationships with the show's star and its executive producer.[47] In October 2006, the pilot aired on NBC as 30 Rock. Although the episode received generally good reviews,[48] it finished third in its timeslot.[49]

The network gave the series a second season, which began in October 2007.[50] The show's third season premiered on October 30, 2008. The premiere episode set records for the highest ratings of the series.[51] In January 2009, NBC renewed 30 Rock for the 2009–2010 season.[52]

In 2007, Fey received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.[53] The show itself won the 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.[54] In 2008, she won the Golden Globe,[55] Screen Actors Guild,[56] and Emmy awards all in the category for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.[57] The following year, Fey again won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award in the same categories.[55][58] She was also nominated for an Emmy Award.[59] In early 2010, Fey received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.[60] She won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Lead Actress.[61]

Sarah Palin[change | change source]

In September and October 2008 Fey was a guest on SNL to perform a series of parodies of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. On the 34th season premiere episode, aired September 13, 2008, Fey imitated Palin in a sketch, alongside Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. Their act included Clinton making fun of Palin about her "Tina Fey glasses".[62] The sketch quickly became NBC.com's most-watched viral video ever. It had 5.7 million views by the following Wednesday.[63] Fey acted in the role again on the October 4 show.[64] She also acted as Palin on the October 18 show where she was joined by the real Sarah Palin. The October 18 show had the best ratings of any SNL show since 1994.[65] The following year Fey won an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her acting as Palin.[66]

In December 2009, Entertainment Weekly put her impersonation on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, writing, "Fey's freakishly spot-on SNL impersonation of the wannabe VP (and her ability to strike a balance between comedy and cruelty) made for truly transcendent television."[67]

Other work[change | change source]

In 2000, Fey worked with fellow SNL cast member Rachel Dratch in the Off Broadway two-woman show Dratch & Fey at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City.[19][68] The show was well received by critics.[69] Tim Townsend of The Wall Street Journal in review of Dratch & Fey, wrote that the fun part of watching them perform was "seeing how comfortable they are with each other".[19] He said that the show "isn't about two women being funny. [...] Dratch and Fey are just funny. Period."[19] One of the SNL sketches, "Sully and Denise", originated at Second City in Chicago.[25]

On August 13, 2007, Fey was a guest on the children's television series Sesame Street, in the episode, "The Bookaneers".[70] She appeared as a guest judge on the November 25, 2007 episode of the Food Network program Iron Chef America.[71] Fey has appeared in Disney's campaign "Year of a Million Dreams" as Tinker Bell, along with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan and Gisele Bündchen as Wendy Darling.[72] She has also done commercials for American Express credit card.[73]

On February 23, 2008, Fey hosted the first episode of SNL after the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[74] For this appearance, she was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.[75]

Movies[change | change source]

In 2002, Fey appeared in the comedy Martin & Orloff.[76] She made her debut as writer and co-star of the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls. Characters and behaviors in the movie are based on Fey's high school life at Upper Darby High School.[77] It is also based on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.[78] The cast includes other past cast members of SNL including Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Poehler. The movie received favorable reviews.[79] It was a box office success, grossing $129 million worldwide.[80]

Fey with Amy Poehler at the premiere of Baby Mama in New York.

In a 2004 interview, Fey said that she would like to write and direct movies in which she has small parts.[11] As of April 2006, Fey has been working on a movie script for Paramount Pictures, which will feature Sacha Baron Cohen, by the name of Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill. It is based loosely on the true story of a Hasidic rock musician.[81][82] In 2007, she was cast in the animated comedy movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters as the teens' mother, a giant burrito.[83]

Fey and former SNL castmate Amy Poehler starred in the 2008 comedy Baby Mama. The movie was written and directed by Michael McCullers. The movie is about Kate (Fey), a business woman, who wants a child but, discovering she has only a million-to-one chance of getting pregnant, decides to find a surrogate: Angie (Poehler), a white-trash schemer.[84] Baby Mama received mixed reviews, but many critics enjoyed Fey's performance. Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote: "Fey is a delight to watch throughout. Able to convey Kate's intentions and feelings through the simple looks and inflections, she never melodramatizes her situation; nor does her efficient, perfectionist side become overbearing."[85] The movie grossed over $64 million at the box office.[86]

Fey's projects after 2008 include her giving her voice to the character Lisa in the English language version of the Japanese animated movie Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (titled Ponyo for its U.S. release).[87] In 2009, she appeared in The Invention of Lying,[88] alongside Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Christopher Guest.[89] Her next movie role was in Shawn Levy's comedy Date Night.[90] The movie focuses on a married couple, played by Fey and Steve Carell, who go on a date. However, the night goes wrong for the two.[91] In addition, she has agreed to do voice work for the DreamWorks animated movie MegaMind.[92]

In the media[change | change source]

Fey was ranked in the Hot 100 List at number 80 on Maxim magazine in 2002.[17] She was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2003.[93] Fey was one of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in 2007, 2008, and 2009.[94][95][96] In 2007, she was included in People's 100 Most Beautiful issue.[97] Also in 2007, Fey placed seventh on the Hot 100 List on AfterEllen.com.[98] She was on the list again the next year, too. However, in 2008 she was number one on the list.[99]

In 2001, Entertainment Weekly named Fey as one of their Entertainers of the Year for her work on Weekend Update.[100] She again was named one of the magazine's Entertainers of the Year in 2007.[101] She placed number two in 2008.[102] In 2009, Fey was named as Entertainment Weekly's fifth individual in their 15 Entertainers of the 2000s list.[103] The newspaper editors and broadcast producers of the Associated Press voted Fey the AP Entertainer of the Year as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008. They cited her impression of Sarah Palin on SNL.[1] She has appeared on the annual Celebrity 100 list by Forbes in 2008 and 2009 at No. 99 and No. 86.[104][105]

In 2007, the New York Post included Fey in New York's 50 Most Powerful Women, ranking her at number 33.[106] Fey was among the Time 100, a list of the 100 most influential people in the world, in 2007 and 2009, as selected annually by Time magazine.[107][108] Fey's featured article for the 2009 list was written by 30 Rock co-star, Alec Baldwin.[108] She was selected by Barbara Walters as one of America's 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008.[109]

Personal life[change | change source]

Fey and Jeff Richmond in April 2010

Fey is married to Jeff Richmond. Richmond is a composer on 30 Rock. They met at Chicago's Second City. The two dated for seven years before marrying in a Greek Orthodox ceremony on June 3, 2001.[110] They have a daughter, Alice Zenobia Richmond, who was born on September 10, 2005,[111] while Fey was still working at SNL. Fey returned to the show on October 22, saying "I had to get back to work. NBC has me under contract; the baby and I have only a verbal agreement."[112] In April 2009, Fey and Richmond bought a $3.4 million apartment in the Upper West Side in New York City.[113]

Fey has a scar a few inches long on the left side of her chin and cheek. Fey was quoted in the November 25, 2001, New York Times article as saying about it: "It's a childhood injury that was kind of grim. And it kind of bums my parents out for me to talk about it".[29] But in an interview with Fey and Richmond in the January 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, Richmond said the scar comes from a slashing incident, which happened when she was five. Richmond said: "It was in, like, the front yard of her house, and somebody just came up, and she just thought somebody marked her with a pen."[114] She has said she was unsure about talking about it because "It's impossible to talk about it without somehow seemingly exploiting it."[115] Fey shows her right (non-scar) side of her face more often when acting as her character Liz Lemon.[114]

Her charity work includes support of Autism Speaks. It is a group that sponsors autism research. It hosts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public.[116] At the 64th Golden Globe Awards, Fey wore a blue puzzle piece to raise awareness for the organization.[117] In April 2008, she participated in Night of Too Many Stars, a comedy show benefit for autism education.[118]

Fey is also a supporter of Mercy Corps, a global relief and development organization, in their campaign to end world hunger.[119] Fey narrated a video for Mercy Corps's Action Center in New York City, describing hunger as a symptom of many wider world problems.[120] She also supports the Love Our Children USA organization, which fights violence against children.[121] They named her among their Mothers Who Make a Difference in 2009.[122] She is the 2009 national spokesperson for the Light The Night Walk, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.[123]

Detailed works[change | change source]

As a writer[change | change source]

Year/s Title Medium Notes
1997–2006 Saturday Night Live TV Head writer 1999–2006
2004 Mean Girls movie Screenplay adapted from Queen Bees and Wannabes
2006–present 30 Rock TV Episodes written:

Season 1: (8/21) "Pilot", "The Aftermath", "Tracy Does Conan", "The Head and the Hair"*, "Black Tie"*, "Up All Night", "The C Word", "Hiatus"
Season 2: (4/15) "SeinfeldVision", "Somebody to Love"*, "MILF Island"*, "Cooter"
Season 3: (4) "Do-Over", "Christmas Special"*, "St. Valentine's Day"*, "The Bubble", "The Natural Order"*
*means episode co-written.

(Source: IMDb.com)

As an actress[change | change source]

Year/s Title Medium Role/s Notes
1998–2006, 2008, 2010 Saturday Night Live TV Multiple Includes being a cast member from 1998 to 2006, host of Weekend Update (2000–2006), guest in 2008 and 2010, and made five appearances impersonating Sarah Palin.
1999 Upright Citizens Brigade TV Kerri Downey One Episode
2002 Martin & Orloff movie Southern Women
2004 Mean Girls movie Ms. Norbury
2006 Artie Lange's Beer League movie Gym Secretary
2006–present 30 Rock TV Liz Lemon
2008 Baby Mama movie Kate Holbrook
2009 Ponyo movie Lisa Voice (English version)
The Invention of Lying movie Shelley
2010 Date Night movie Claire Foster
MegaMind movie Roxanne Ritchi Voice
(Source: IMDb.com)

Awards and nominations[change | change source]

The following awards are put under the year they were announced. They are not necessarily the year covered by the award ceremony.

Year Award Category Work Result
2001 Emmy Award Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Saturday Night Live Nominated
WGA Award Comedy/Variety series Saturday Night Live Nominated
Comedy/Variety special Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Special Won
2002 Emmy Award Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Saturday Night Live Won
WGA Award Comedy/Variety series Nominated
2003 Emmy Award Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Saturday Night Live Nominated
WGA Award Comedy/Variety Series Nominated
Comedy/Variety Special Saturday Night Live: NBC 75th Anniversary Special Nominated
2004 Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
2005 People's Choice Awards Favorite Funny Female Star Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Comedian Nominated
WGA Award Best Adapted Screenplay Mean Girls Nominated
2007 Emmy Award Comedy Series 30 Rock Won
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Writing for a Comedy Series "Tracy Does Conan" for 30 Rock Nominated
WGA Award Comedy Series 30 Rock Nominated
New Series Nominated
Comedy/Variety Special Saturday Night Live Won
2008 Emmy Award Comedy Series 30 Rock Won
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Writing for a Comedy Series "Cooter" for 30 Rock Won
Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program Saturday Night Live Nominated
Golden Globe Award Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy 30 Rock Won
Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Female Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
WGA Award Comedy Series Won
2009 Golden Globe Award Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy Won
Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Female Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
WGA Award Comedy Series Won
Episodic Comedy "Cooter" for 30 Rock Nominated
Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Portrayal of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live Won
Comedy Series 30 Rock Won
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2010 Golden Globe Award Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Female Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated

References[change | change source]

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