ICYMI, Tina Fey can do no wrong. The former Saturday Night Live icon turned sitcom icon turned movie icon is in the process of becoming a Broadway icon. Fey and her husband, Jeff Richmond, recently brought Mean Girls to the Great White Way. The show earned a whopping 12 Tony nominations (more than any other except Spongebob Squarepants), including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (for Fey) and Best Original Score (for Richmond and Nell Benjamin). Broadway Spin caught up with the 48-year-old mother of two to hear about her journey to Broadway and her hope for the future.
Broadway Spin: What is one of the best pieces of advice that you received early on in your career?
Tina Fey: One really good piece of guidance I got early on was to write things and make things that you yourself would actually want to see, and not necessarily what you think the market is looking for – to make things that you really would go to see yourself.
For example, with movies and TV pilots, some people say, “They’re looking for office comedies this year.” But it’s really write what excites you; write what speaks to you. I always think of things in terms of this nonsense term that I use: “Does it have nuggets?” That really means: Does it have nuggets that you can write about, like relationships, politics, environments? You should write what inspires you and not what people want you to sell.
BS: It takes years to bring a show to Broadway. How did you stay the course?
TF: It’s a long time because that’s just how it works. Going into it, everyone said it would take five years and it did. It took five years.
BS: What was the joy of bringing Mean Girls to Broadway?
TF: Oh my God, there was so much joy. The movie has ended up meaning a lot to people, so I wanted to give people who loved the movie a good experience, but also to make it new. These actors have done a phenomenal job of making these parts their own. They really own these roles now. We have six female principles who have brought so much to making these roles their own. The incredible ensemble fills out the universe.
BS: What is the message of Mean Girls?
TF: The message of our show is very simple. Calling someone ugly doesn’t make you better looking. Calling someone else stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. It’s a simple thing to say. It’s a hard thing to put into practice. Our world is a dumpster fire right now. And I personally believe that the only way forward is going to be when we start treating each other with basic human dignity – and hopefully jokes will help.