Tina Fey was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania on May 18, 1970, to parents Donald Henry Fey and Zenobia “Jeanne” Fey. Jeanne worked in a brokerage firm and Don Fey was a veteran, university administrator, firefighter and a grant proposal writer. Following her father’s death, Tina established a scholarship fund in his name at his alma mater, Temple University, to support veterans studying journalism. She has a brother, Peter, who is eight years older. Tina Fey is married to Jeff Richmond, and together, they have two daughters: Alice Zenobia Richmond (b. 2005) and Penelope Athena Richmond (b. 2011).
Tina Fey attended Upper Darby High School, where she was an honors student, a member of the choir, drama club, and tennis team, and co-editor of the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. By the time she was in elementary school, she was already going by the name Tina, as she says: “my first name is Elizabeth, but I’ve always gone by Tina even in, you know, from elementary school on.“
Tina says she was interested in comedy from middle school: “I remember me and one other girl in my 8th-grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy. “
Tina enrolled at the University of Virginia, where she studied playwriting and acting and was awarded the Pettway Prize. She graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama. After graduating from college, Tina moved to Chicago. There, she worked as a receptionist during the day at the YMCA and took improv classes at The Second City at night. After a while, she started doing gigs at Improv Olympic, where she met her now-husband and collaborator, pianist, Jeff Richmond. Later on, they both got jobs at Second City. Tina started touring with the Second City touring company alongside Amy Poehler up until Amy moved to New York to start the UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade).
In 1997, at the suggestion of Adam McKay, a former Second City player who was then the head writer at SNL, Tina sent some scripts to Lorne Michaels. She was then hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live. She told The New Yorker, “I’d had my eye on the show forever, the way other kids have their eye on Derek Jeter.“
In 1999, Tina was promoted to head writer on Saturday Night Live. She became the first woman to take the role in the show’s 33-year history. In 2000, she started as a featured player, co-hosting Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon. In 2000, she was promoted to a repertory player. Tina stayed as a cast member on SNL during seasons 26 to 31. At the time she left, the 117 episodes she co-hosted made her SNL’s longest-serving Weekend Update anchor, a mark that would later be passed by her replacement, Seth Meyers. In Rolling Stone’s February 2015 appraisal of all 141 SNL cast members to date, Tina was ranked third in importance (behind John Belushi and Eddie Murphy). They credited her with “salvaging ‘Update’ from a decade-long losing streak,” and “slapping SNL out of its late-nineties coma.”
In 2004, Tina Fey wrote and co-starred in Mean Girls, which is now considered a cultural phenomenon. The movie is based on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman and it is also inspired by Tina’s own high school experience.
During Tina’s run on SNL, Lorne Michaels suggested that Tina should get a development deal with NBC, and she started developing ideas. She pitched a sitcom about a cable news network, which was then rejected. Jeff Zucker, then president of NBC, suggested that she start writing something closer to what she knew, which then lead to her writing the 30 Rock pilot.
In 2006, she left Saturday Night Live to create, write, produce and star on her own show, 30 Rock. Tina says that the only reason NBC even agreed to develop the show was that they had cast Alec Baldwin. 30 Rock wasn’t an instant hit and Tina was pretty sure NBC would cancel the show. But by 2007, she had received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series and the show won the 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series (and did so again for two subsequent years). 30 Rock went on to receive 112 Emmy award nominations during its run. It has been cited as one of the greatest TV series of all time and it is considered to have one of the greatest finales in television history.
Leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Tina began doing impressions of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. It all started when her husband Jeff pointed out that Tina looked like Sarah Palin. The general public was also wondering if she would impersonate her. At first, she was resistant to doing it. It wasn’t until Lorne told her that his doorman and Robert DeNiro had also pointed out that they looked similar. She jokes that no one realized she wasn’t working at SNL anymore. At the time, it wasn’t common for former cast members to come back as guests. Her impersonation of Sarah Palin was such a hit that when combined with Amy Poehler’s impersonations of Hillary Clinton, the sketches resulted in a 46% increase in Saturday Night Live’s ratings from the prior season. Her performance would then become iconic and lead up to her Mark Twain Prize For American Humor in 2010, making her the youngest-ever recipient of the award.
Also in 2008, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler starred in the comedy Baby Mama. he movie was written and directed by Michael McCullers. The plot concerns Kate (Fey), a businesswoman, 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.
In 2009, Tina had a small part in Ricky Gervais’ movie, The Invention of Lying. The movie takes place in an alternate reality in which lying–even the concept of a lie–does not even exist.
Her next film role was in Shawn Levy’s 2010 comedy Date Night, a feature that focuses on a married couple, played by Tina and Steve Carell, who go on a date; however, the night doesn’t go well for the two. Also in the same year, she voiced Roxanne Ritchie, a television reporter, in the DreamWorks animated film Megamind.
In 2011, Tina released her autobiography Bossypants, which became an international bestseller. Janet Maslin for The New York Times calls Bossypants “a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation.” Tina’s narration of the audiobook earned her a Grammy nomination.
In 2013, Tina starred alongside Paul Rudd in the romantic comedy-drama film Admission, based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz novel by the same name. The film was directed by Paul Weitz. In the same year, she appeared in an uncredited role at the end of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
In 2014, Tina starred in Muppets Most Wanted, in which she plays Nadya, a feisty prison guard. Also in the same year, she starred in the comedy-drama This Is Where I Leave You, which tells the story of a family who is forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week after their father passed away.
In 2015, Tina created and produced the television comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with fellow 30 Rock-alumnus Robert Carlock. The series stars Ellie Kemper as the main character who escapes from a doomsday cult and moves to New York City. It also stars Tina’s former co-star Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, and Carol Kane. Although it was originally produced for NBC, it was eventually sold to Netflix and immediately renewed for a second season. The show premiered on March 6, 2015 and ran for four seasons, ending on January 25, 2019. In May 2019, it was announced that the series would return with an interactive special set to premiere in 2020.
In 2015, Tina was the narrator of the Disney Nature film Monkey Kingdom, which was released in theaters on April 17, 2015. Also in 2015, she re-teamed with Poehler, starring in the 2015 comedy film Sisters as the main characters. They played sisters who wanted to give one last party at their childhood house before their parents sell it. The movie was written by SNL alumni Paula Pell.
Tina also made small guest appearances as herself on iCarly (2012), Inside Amy Schumer (2016), Maya & Marty (2016), and Difficult People (2016).
In 2016, Tina starred in the biographical war comedy-drama Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker. While reviewing the book, The New York Times writer Michiko Kakutani said “she depicts herself as a sort of Tina Fey character” and that was enough to bring it to Tina’s attention.
In 2017, Tina returned to NBC, as she produced and took on a recurring role in Great News, about a news producer dealing with her mother’s internship at the network. She played Diana St. Tropez.
Meanwhile, Tina was producing a Broadway adaptation of Mean Girls. The show had its run at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., in late 2017 before moving to Broadway in 2018. Mean Girls on Broadway features music by Jeff Richmond, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and a book by Tina Fey.
In 2019, Tina had a supporting role named Tammy in the comedy film Wine Country, which was Amy Poehler’s directorial debut. The movie was released on Netflix and in selected theaters. Also in the same year, Tina appeared alongside John Slattery in the Amazon anthology series Modern Love. They played a couple who had to work through issues in their marriage.
In August 2019, it was announced that Tina would voice the co-lead role in the Pixar fantasy comedy-adventure film Soul, which is scheduled to be released in June 2020.
Tina has many projects under development such as a Netflix feature comedy ‘Hometown‘, starring Natasha Rothwell and written by Paula Pell and Michelle Lawler, which she’ll be co-producing. She is also going to produce an adaptation of Carol Burnett’s memoir ‘Carrie and Me‘.
In July 2019, it was announced that Tina Fey and Robert Carlock will write and produce a new comedy series for NBC with Ted Danson as the star. The series is about a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once he wins he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter, all while controlling the coyote population.
In January 2020, Peacock (NBC’s streaming service) announced that Tina will be the executive producer of “Girls5Eva”, an original comedy series about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot.
Last updated on March 4, 2020.