Family & Companions
An alumni of Chicago's famed Second City improv troupe, fashionably bespectacled writer-comedienne Tina Fey proved that a brainy woman could be sexy. A popular crush among political junkies, cultural literates and highbrow frat boys across America, this self-described "super-nerd" first came onto the scene as a writer and cast member of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) where she sparkled brightly as the sarcastic Weekend Update co-anchor to Jimmy Fallon, and later, Amy Poehler. After proving her mettle as big-screen scribe of the hit Lindsay Lohan flick "Mean Girls" (2004), Fey left the "SNL" nest to write and star on the award-winning sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013). Despite a constant battle for ratings, "30 Rock" became a media darling and a multi-award winner, thanks to Fey's sharp dialogue and easy rapport with co-star Alec Baldwin. While the show racked up numerous awards, Fey continued working in features, appearing opposite Poehler in "Baby Mama" (2007) and Steve Carell in "Date Night" (2010). A return to "SNL" in 2008 with a dead-on caricature of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin became one of the most talked-about sketches in the show's history. A return to television with the quirky comedy "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix 2015- ) and a big-screen reunion with Poehler in the comedy "Sisters" (2015) continued her string of appealing projects. Fey's immense talents both in front of and behind the camera made her both an inspiration to female writers and an influential performer who had an undeniable impact on popular culture.
Born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey on May 18, 1970 in Upper Darby, PA, this multi-talented performer developed her appreciation for comedy at an early age. Fey recalled her education beginning at the age of four, when her parents snuck her in to see Mel Brooks' comic classic, "Young Frankenstein" (1974). Intellectually inclined, not surprisingly, Fey excelled in academics. In 1988, Fey enrolled at the University of Virginia, where she eventually earned a degree in drama. After graduating in 1992, Fey moved to Chicago where she supported herself as a clerk at the YMCA. Working at the Y by day, Fey spent her nights taking classes at The Second City Training Center. It was during this period that Fey took what she later described as an "amateurish" stab at stand-up comedy. Her hard work honing her comedic gifts eventually paid off. By 1994, Fey was invited to join The Second City's cast - a thrilling accomplishment for anyone who valued American comedy. It was there that Fey established herself as a member of The Upright Citizen's Brigade - an improvisational comedy troupe that included Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz (both of whom, Fey would reunite with later on "SNL"). Fey quickly developed a comedic partnership with troupe member Rachel Dratch. The pair's show "Dratch & Fey" garnered rave reviews in its 1999 debut at Second City and its 2000 run at New York's Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater.
Fey's hard work in the Citizen's Brigade did not go unnoticed. In 1997, she landed the break of her career when she was invited to join the writing staff of "SNL" by the iconic show's then head writer, Adam McKay. Despite being one of the only female writers on staff, Fey proved her worth in the competitive, testosterone-laden environment of the writers' room. As one of the minds behind such hit recurring bits as the merciless satire of "The View" and the Boston video camera-toting teen parody "Sully and Denise" (starring Jimmy Fallon and Fey's frequent comedy collaborator and fellow Second City alum Rachel Dratch), Fey set herself apart as one of the show's more consistent and contemporary writers. This won Fey the respect of executive producer Lorne Michaels, who became a mentor. Fey's star rose even higher a year later, when she crossed over as a performer. Fey signed on to become an official cast member of the show in 1998 while maintaining double duty as a writer, proving herself to be as polished and confident a performer in front of the cameras as she was behind it.
In 1999, Fey was promoted to head writer - the first female one in the history of "SNL." Coincidentally, it was around this same period that Fey found and refined her trademark style of faux-serious delivery. As co-anchor of "Weekend Update," the show's long-running newscast parody, the feisty Fey was paired with the more frivolous Jimmy Fallon, who provided an ideal comedic foil, beginning in the 2000-01 season. Her assured and skillful delivery of the news was appreciated by fans, while her mixture of sparkle and sophistication balanced out Fallon's boyish energy. Editorial comments like her passionate and honestly funny rant against Hugh Hefner's harem were a welcome addition to the show, offering a fresh perspective on a series and in a genre known for being overwhelmingly male dominated. After Fallon's departure in 2004, Fey was joined in her anchoring duties by Amy Poehler, marking the first two-woman anchor team in the bit's history.
In 2004, Fey expanded her resume by writing the script and co-starring (as a teacher) in the semi-autobiographical big screen comedy, "Mean Girls" - a funny if somewhat familiar exploration of in-fighting amid a clique of supposedly popular high school girls. Made for a relatively modest $25 million, the Lindsay Lohan vehicle was a bona fide hit, grossing nearly $130 million worldwide. Buoyed by the box office success of "Mean Girls," Fey quickly found herself in hot demand. Landing a development deal with NBC, Fey unveiled her firstborn production in 2006 - the hotly anticipated fall sitcom "30 Rock." Based on her experiences at "Saturday Night Live," "30 Rock" received the official blessing of Lorne Michaels, who served as an executive producer. Fey served as both star and head writer/producer for a show that also starred big shot movie star and favorite "SNL" host, Alec Baldwin. The show got off to a rocky start from out of the gate, beginning with a much-publicized last minute casting change - the firing of Fey's longtime friend and co-star Dratch in favor of actress Jane Krakowski. To make matters worse, the premiere episode of "30 Rock" performed unimpressively in the ratings, placing third in its timeslot. Despite this disappointing showing, "30 Rock" still appeared in high enough standing with NBC - enough for the network to move it to Thursday night's "must-see TV" comedy line-up. The time change proved to be a wise decision, stabilizing the show's ratings and dramatically increasing its exposure.
By the end of 2006, "30 Rock" topped several publications' "year's best" lists, including LA Weekly, The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle. On Sept. 16, 2007, "30 Rock" executive producer-creator-star Fey received the ultimate vindication for a rocky, albeit ultimately successful year: an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series. And for her acting talents - which she herself felt insecure about - she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy TV Series in early 2008, as well as the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series later that same year. Before the third season of "30 Rock" began in October 2008, Fey made a triumphant return to "SNL" to play Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, with whom she shared a striking resemblance. Fey first appeared as Palin next to Poehler (who played Hillary Clinton), then returned for subsequent episodes during the remainder of the campaign; most notably when Palin herself made an appearance two weeks before the election as well as when presidential candidate John McCain showed up the following week.
The day after the election, Fey confirmed that she was retiring from playing Palin in order to focus on "30 Rock," which earned Fey her second consecutive Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series. Weeks later, Fey won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy. Following a return to features with "Baby Mama" (2008), in which she co-starred alongside longtime friend Poehler, Fey continued her awards domination in 2009 when she won two Golden Globes and another Emmy for her work on the sitcom, while also winning her first non-"30 Rock" Emmy for her caricature of Sarah Palin on "SNL." Back on the big screen, she starred opposite Ricky Gervais in the satirical Hollywood comedy, "The Invention of Lying" (2009), before joining forces with Steve Carell from "The Office" (NBC, 2005-2013) in "Date Night" (2010), in which they played a suburban couple whose night out together turns into an over-the-top disaster that breaks the monotony of their marriage. Later that fall, she and her cast put together an extraordinary live episode of "30 Rock" performed twice; first for the East Coast, followed by a slightly different version for the West Coast. By year's end, Fey was again nominated for a SAG award for Best Actress in a Comedy and a Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Comedy Series - both of which she won.
The accolades kept coming for Fey, when she was presented with the 2010 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, making her the youngest recipient of the prestigious award. There was more good news when, while promoting her well-reviewed autobiography Bossypants, Fey revealed in an April 2011 appearance with Oprah Winfrey that she and husband Richmond were expecting their second child. Continuing the media blitz, Fey returned to host "SNL" the following month, where she once more resurrected the "semi-retired" impersonation of Palin, much to the delight of viewers. A surprise to no one, Fey again received Emmy nominations in 2011 for her work on "30 Rock," with more nods following in 2012 and 2013. Aside from voicing one of the main characters in the supervillain-centric animated hit "Megamind" (2010), Fey chose to steer clear of big-screen ventures, remaining focused on her television work. In early 2013, she brought "30 Rock" to a close, after a short seventh season that saw Liz Lemon settle into a relationship with the handsome Criss Cross (James Marsden). Shortly after the end of the fan-favorite series, Fey returned to cinemas in the thoughtful dramedy "Admission," co-starring Paul Rudd. Following small roles in "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" (2013) and "Muppets Most Wanted" (2014), Fey co-starred with Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda in the family drama "This Is Where I Leave You" (2014). Fey returned to television with a new comedy series written with her "30 Rock" partner Robert Carlock, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix 2015- ), starring Ellie Kemper as a young woman who moves to New York after spending 15 years locked underground as a member of an apocalyptic cult. Developed for NBC, the series was sold to Netflix, where it garnered critical raves and a devoted online following. Fey next reunited with Poehler in the comedy "Sisters" (2015), written by longtime SNL friend Paula Pell and starring the duo as middle-aged sisters having one last blowout party in their childhood home before their parents sell it.
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Interviewed for position as a staff writer at "Saturday Night Live" (NBC), hired by Lorne Michaels
With "SNL" player Rachel Dratch, performed sketch comedy "Dratch & Fey" in Chicago
Elevated to position of head writer at "SNL" (NBC), the first female to ever hold post
Named head writer of "Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary" (NBC)
Reprised appearances in "Dratch & Fey" in NYC
Appeared on camera as co-host (with Jimmy Fallon and later Amy Poehler) of Weekend Update segment of "SNL"
Penned first feature "Mean Girls"; also co-starred with Lindsay Lohan; film also featured fellow "SNL" cast members Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Poehler
Created and starred on NBC comedy "30 Rock" as Liz Lemon, head writer and co-executive producer of a NYC based sketch-comedy show
Collaborated with former "SNL" castmate Amy Poehler in comedy "Baby Mama"
Became third female cast member to return and host "SNL"
Returned to "SNL" to impersonate former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in several sketches
Co-starred with Steve Carell as a suburban couple whose "Date Night" turns hilariously disastrous
Voiced news reporter Roxanne Ritchi in animated comedy "Megamind"
Wrote part-memoir, part-essay collection Bossypants
Co-hosted 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards along with Amy Poehler
Co-starred with Paul Rudd in "Admission," directed by Paul Weitz
Co-starred with Jason Bateman in "This Is Where I Leave You"
Wrote the Netflix series the "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Starred alongside Amy Poehler in the comedy "Sisters"
Starred in the war comedy "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"