THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Onscreen and off, Tina Fey projects the affect of an ugly duckling who -- after staying home studying for the SATs every night -- suddenly woke up a glittering swan. Part of that's true enough, but the 30 Rock creator and noted Sarah Palin impersonator always has been shrewder than her cool wallflower persona implies, as Fey's hit book, Bossypants, reminds us.
And with earnings of about $13 million a year for her work as a television actress, she's not just a sober and diligent worker but one of the field's top paid talent.
Fey cut her teeth with Chicago's Second City before moving on to Saturday Night Live, a show she'd obsessed over as a kid, becoming SNL's first-ever female head writer ("Only in comedy, by the way," she writes in her book, "does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity") and then, alongside Jimmy Fallon, one of the show's best-ever Weekend Update anchors.
In 2011 her biggest coup has been Bossypants -- a celebrity memoir for people who don't read them. Possessor of a boatload of Emmy nominations, a handful of trophies and, as of last year, the status of youngest-ever winner of a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, she has managed to keep her head on straight as she's become a household name.
To what mantra does she owe her success? "My advice is always 'Trust your gut,' " she says. "It's not a new idea, but the few creative regrets I have were always situations where I didn't follow my instinct to give a note or change a piece of dialogue or something."
Fey, 41, lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side with her composer husband, Jeff Richmond, and their two daughters, and supports autism and leukemia charities.
With the exception of Mean Girls ("I met a young woman who told me with great emotion how the movie helped her get through high school… That meant a lot to me"), her film projects haven't quite captured her geek-chic genius, but 30 Rock's Liz Lemon character is as inspired a creation as her Palin: With a mix of hyper-competent and bumbling, take-charge and insecure, she's a figure whose appeal reaches beyond women struggling in a male-dominated workplace.
For those still wondering how she does it, by the way, her book advises: "No pigtails, no tube tops. Cry sparingly."
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