By Tracy Evans
Tina Fey is finally a household name. It’s about time. I’ve been treating myself to Fey’s talent for years, now you can too. Since the beginning of her career, 38-year-old Fey has been under the radar even though she was breaking new ground in television left and right. So it’s thrilling to now see her basking in the spotlight. Last month this working mom became the media’s “it girl” after she stole the show as Sarah Palin in the Saturday Night Live season opener. Just two weeks after that she was the belle of the Emmy’s winning three statues for her work on the critically acclaimed NBC sitcom 30 Rock. She followed that off with another spectacular SNL spoof of newscaster Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin. Fey is on a well-deserved winning streak. Not bad for a self-described geek from Philadelphia.
Even Republicans with a sense of humor appreciate Fey’s impersonation of their V.P. Nominee. Sure the media’s obsession with Palin helped both SNL skits draw big ratings but there’s more to it that: Tina nailed the impression. So much so, viewers have since watched the season opener skit on-line millions of times over since the SNL season opener aired three weeks ago – making it an instant classic.
Fey started out as a player in the comedy troupe Second City in Chicago. Actually she failed at her first try-out but the second time was the charm. She was later scouted by Saturday Night Live as a writer. Not only did she join the show she was later promoted to head writer. That’s right, she was first female head writer in the history of SNL. Her career skyrocketed when she managed to make the tricky switch from behind the scenes staffer to on-camera personality. Just getting your boss to give you a shot on-air is difficult but actually pulling it off is a whole different story. Kudos for SNL boss Lorne Michaels for giving her a chance. The risk paid off big time. Fey managed to make the SNL Weekend Update news anchor skit funny again. Thanks to her writing and on-camera pairing with funnyman Jimmy Fallon, the fake anchor match is considered by many to be the best news duo in the show’s history. After Fallon left the show, Fey’s best bud Amy Poehler joined her at the anchor desk. The first female news team in Weekend Update history. Not an easy feat in the male-dominated world of comedy.
While still at SNL Fey wrote and co-starred in the movie Mean Girls with Lindsey Lohan. That success led to a television jackpot. The chance to create her own show for NBC. So she took a big risk and left SNL to try to make it in primetime. The odds were stacked against her considering that very few SNL alumni have made it big after leaving the show. But Fey proved the naysayers wrong. With help from former SNL boss Lorne Michaels, Fey created 30 Rock which is loosely based on her time at SNL. The smartly cast show struggled in the ratings the first season. But thanks to critical raves and recent Emmy wins 30 Rock survived and is now in its third season. Some mega stars making appearances this season include Jennifer Aniston and get this, Oprah Winfrey. Fey is turning into a media powerhouse - you have to have major pull to get Oprah to make a guest appearance on anything. Even though she is now an Emmy-winning actress she hasn’t abandoned her knack for words: she still writes or co-writes most of 30 Rock's scripts. Talk about a heavy workload.
Tina Fey must have the secret. It's not easy to juggle a high-flying career, a marriage
and a three-year-old daughter all at once. But Fey’s doing it and doing
it pretty well.
She’s married with a toddler and gets up to go to work every day, writes the show or at least part of it, and then also stars in the program. Somehow she makes it work. One of her Emmys was for writing, the other for her acting. Boy, she sure sounds like superwoman, but even Fey admits that she is not. She recently cracked that the recent Writers’ Strike gave her some much-needed time with her daughter, “I spent the whole time with my kid, which was nice. It was like the maternity leave I never got. She is now able to pick me up out of a lineup of four or five women."
But what I love about Tina most is this: in an industry overrun with fakes she is the real deal. She’s full of talent not Botox. The only thing plastic about her is her American Express card – yes, add charge card spokesperson to her growing resume. Nope, fame hasn’t changed her. She’s still unabashedly sassy, smart, and sarcastic. And unlike many actresses she still looks like the rest of us. While a long list of actresses have altered their appearance after making it big, Fey hasn’t changed a thing: no fancy hair extensions, perky boob job, or personality transplant. Just the same scar on her left cheek, brown hair and glasses. Proof that she sure knows a good thing when she sees it.
Yep, those Sarah Palin look-a-like glasses sure came in handy.