She is known to Americans as the political and media-savvy comic from Saturday Night Live, the sketch comedy show that helped her launch her own award-winning 30 Rock.
Now Tina Fey hopes to parlay that television success to the big screen in her first major film role in Baby Mama, a humorous look at a single woman who pays a surrogate mother to give birth to her baby.
Fey, 37, has become a female comic sensation after winning Emmy and Golden Globe awards. She became the first female head writer on Saturday Night Live, wrote the screenplay and co-starred in the 2004 hit movie Mean Girls, and is credited as creator, star and executive producer of 30 Rock.
But she said she is not banking on the same buzz for her film, nor does she know whether her current success will last.
“Things are going well right now, but I am pragmatic and I am always like, ‘Now I need to be ready for a long silence,” she said in a recent interview. “The hard work part will hopefully continue. You can’t be the new kid on the block forever.”
The former self-confessed high school “nerd” who grew up watching entertainers like Mary Tyler Moore and Benny Hill said she was careful to not let popularity affect her ego.
“You would be foolish to think, ‘Oh everyone has really discovered that I am truly, truly wonderful,’” said Fey, who honed her comic skills in the early 1990s at Chicago’s famed improvisational comedy troupe The Second City. “You can enjoy it without getting too high on your own supply, as they say.”
Baby Mama also stars Fey’s former Saturday Night Live castmate Amy Poehler.
It was directed and written by another of the show’s writers, Michael McCullers.
Fey, who is married with a 2-year-old daughter, said it was natural to work with her “old friends” and wasn’t worried about being criticized for making a commercial, mainstream film.
“It’s OK to make something people like. It is not entirely selling out,” she said.