Tina Fey

Tina Fey Biography

Television Producer, Screenwriter (1970–)
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Tina Fey is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer best known for her roles on' Saturday Night Live' and '30 Rock.'

Who Is Tina Fey?

Tina Fey is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer born on May 18, 1970, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. She broke through in 1995 on Saturday Night Live as a writer, later becoming the sketch comedy show's lead scribe and its "Weekend Update" co-host. Fey went on to pen the hit movie Mean Girls (which later became a successful musical), before thriving as the star of the popular sitcom 30 Rock and co-creating the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Early Life

Comedian, writer, producer and actress Tina Fey was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey on May 18, 1970, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, to parents Donald and Zenobia "Jeanne" Fey. Jeanne worked in a brokerage firm and Donald Fey wrote grants for the University of Pennsylvania. 

At the age of five, Fey was in an alley behind her house when a stranger approached her and slashed her face with a knife, leaving her with the signature scar she still carries today. But Fey did not allow this incident to define or hinder her. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Tina recalls a dorky adolescence filled with unplucked eyebrows and perms. In lieu of dating, Fey would have friends over to play party games like Celebrity. This self-proclaimed super nerd went on to study drama at the University of Virginia.

'Saturday Night Live'

After graduating from college in 1992, Tina Fey moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy. She joined the comedy training ground Second City, a renowned program where many Saturday Night Live (SNL) performers got their start. 

In 1995, SNL writers came to Second City looking for new talent and were encouraged by Tina Fey's aptitude. When SNL producer Lorne Michaels read Fey's sketch ideas, she was offered a job as an SNL writer. It may be hard for some to imagine Tina Fey prior to stardom and her trademark sexy librarian image, but husband Jeff Richmond remembers dating a Tina who wore "mismatched frumpy clothing" on a heavier, Rubenesque frame.

After several years in New York, Fey became the first female head writer in SNL history. However, when critics were apprehensive of casting her because she didn't have the looks, Fey realized she needed a diet and a makeover.

It was during the show's 25th season when Fey was able to transform her image and establish a fan base. Fey was cast as a news reporter on the regular "Weekend Update" sketch with Jimmy Fallon, where she wrote many of the segments' most popular biting jokes.

'Mean Girls' and '30 Rock'

Despite gaining a more glamorous persona in recent years, Fey still retains her legendary work ethic, deadpan humor, and grounded personality, qualities that helped catapult her comedy projects to unprecedented levels of success. Proving she had the staying power to endure past her SNL run, she penned the screenplay for Mean Girls (2004), a popular movie about the awkwardness of teenage culture that made lead actress Lindsay Lohan a star.

Mean Girls later found new life on the stage, enjoying a run at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., in late 2017 before moving to Broadway. The play earned a whopping 12 Tony nominations and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical in 2018.

Meanwhile, Fey created the television show 30 Rock, a satirical look on her own life as a SNL writer. Despite lukewarm ratings in the show's early seasons, 30 Rock made comedy series history after receiving 17 different Emmy nominations in 2008, and became one of the most popular shows of its era.

Many attributed the sudden success of 30 Rock to Fey's enormously popular impersonations of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live during the 2008 presidential election. When combined with friend Amy Poehler's impersonations of New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the skits resulted in a 46 percent increase in Saturday Night Live's ratings from the prior season.

'Bossypants' and 'Kimmy Schmidt'

Fey continued her successful momentum through the end of 30 Rock. In 2011, she took time out to release her autobiography, Bossypants, which was well received by The New York Times. She went on to star in the films Admission (2013), Muppets Most Wanted (2014) and This Is Where I Leave You (2014), before reteaming with Poehler for the 2015 comedy Sisters and headlining the 2016 war comedy-drama Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Fey went on to more success in scripted television as the co-creator of Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, starring Elle Kemper, which debuted in 2015 and garnered strong reviews through four seasons.

Returning to sitcom TV for NBC, Fey produced and took on a recurring role in Great News, about a news producer dealing with her mother's internship at the network. Fey then featured prominently in Poheler's 2019 directorial debut, Wine Country, before appearing in the Amazon anthology series Modern Love later that year. 

Awards and Honors

Beginning with her first Writers Guild award, for her work on SNL in 2001, Fey has earned enough accolades to fill an entire trophy room. She has since taken home nine Primetime Emmys, three Golden Globes and five Screen Actors Guild awards. Additionally, the multi-talented writer and performer has earned three Gracie awards, three Producers Guild of America awards and a Television Critics Association award for Individual Achievement in Comedy.

Personal Life

Fey resides in New York City with her husband, 30 Rock producer and composer Jeff Richmond, and their daughters, Alice Zenobia Richmond (b. 2005) and Penelope Athena Richmond (b. 2011).

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