Tina Fey Biography: Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock

Born May 18th, 1970 in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suburb, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was a self-described nerd in school. She blossomed as she began to follow her comedy dreams, and after graduating with a drama degree she moved to Chicago to join the Second City comedy troupe. Soon, she was discovered by Lorne Michaels and "Saturday Night Live," and she became a writer on the show. From there, she gained fame as the first female head writer at "SNL," and for her hilarious appearances behind the Weekend Update desk. She left the show in 2006 to focus on her new sitcom "30 Rock," and since then it has been a steady stream of success on both the small and big screens. In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the life and career of Tina Fey.

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Biography of Tina Fey

“Bitch is the new black.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Tina Fey.

Early Life

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey was born May 18th, 1970 in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suburb. Her interest in comedy developed thanks to comedy troupes like Monty Python and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, but her aspirations were almost derailed when she was slashed in the face by a knife-wielding stranger at age five.


After years as a self-described nerd in school, Fey graduated with a drama degree from the University of Virginia in 1992.

Second City

She then shipped off to Chicago to follow her comedy dreams: she enrolled at the famed “Second City” Training Center where she honed her writing and performing skills. By 1994 she was part of their cast, and soon she was also a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe, alongside Amy Poehler.

“Saturday Night Live” Writer

When “Saturday Night Live” visited the windy city looking for new blood, Tina Fey stood out. In 1997, the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, gave her a writing job, so she moved to New York to work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as one of only three female “SNL” writers at the time.

First Female “SNL” Head Writer

By 1999, the show’s head writer stepped down and Fey was tapped for the position. As the first woman to hold the show’s top job, she was praised for reviving “SNL” after what some called a lackluster decade.

Weekend Update

Meanwhile, Fey partnered with co-star Rachel Dratch for a successful two-woman Off Broadway show. A 30-pound weight loss and a makeover later, Fey was appearing on TV more and more. In 2000, she donned a blue blazer and her trademark eyewear to spout witty sarcasm next to Jimmy Fallon as a Weekend Update anchor.

More Honors

The next year, she married fellow Second City alum Jeff Richmond and earned a Writer’s Guild of America Award for her work on the “SNL 25th Anniversary Special.” In 2003 she was honored in a different way by People Magazine when she was named one of their 50 Most Beautiful People.

Fey and Poehler

By 2004, Fallon left “Saturday Night Live,” and was replaced at the Update desk by Amy Poehler. The pairing of Poehler and Fey marked the first time two women formed the Update team.

“Mean Girls”

Fey upped the girl power factor more that year by writing and acting in the hugely successful, semi-autobiographical film “Mean Girls.”

“30 Rock

In 2006, Fey left “SNL” to work fulltime on the NBC show she was creating based on her experiences there and her relationship with mentor Lorne Michaels. “30 Rock” debuted in October that year and was a critical smash thanks to exceptional casting and sharp writing: it won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in its first season.


The show won again the next year, and Fey raked in awards for acting and writing. Despite these victories, the show struggled to attract viewers.

Palin Impersonation

2008 proved to be a huge year for Tina Fey: not only did her unmatched chemistry with Amy Poehler make it to the big screen in “Baby Mama,” Fey also used her physical similarities to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to do a pitch-perfect impersonation on “SNL.” That spot boosted the show and her career even further by nabbing her another Emmy.

Big Screen Successes

The next year, she joined Ricky Gervais in “The Invention of Lying,” and in 2010 Fey and Steve Carell were a match made in comedy heaven in “Date Night.”

Mark Twain Prize

That year she also lent her voice to “Megamind,” which became one of her most commercially successful projects. But Fey’s biggest honor in 2010 was winning the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.


As “30 Rock” soldiered on, Fey struck gold in 2011 with her autobiography “Bossypants.” In addition, she landed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was named by Forbes as TV’s highest-paid actress. It was also announced that year that Fey would play another single 40-something working woman in 2013’s “Admission.” It was around that time that "30 Rock" ended its run after seven critically-acclaimed season.


On top of her countless awards, Fey has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. She is a successful spokesperson, charity advocate and working mother. But, most importantly, Tina Fey helped prove that smart – and funny – is sexy.

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