If there’s one woman who understands the pressures of male-dominated workplace, it’s Tina Fey. Comedy has always been a bit of a boys club. But if the actress/writer/producer could make it work, so can you.
Her memoir, Bossypants, is both hilarious and poignant. It’s all also full of sisterly advice. “You’re not in competition with other women,” she explains. “You’re in competition with everyone.”Women can learn a lot from the actress’s life. And yes, Liz Lemons of the world, you really can have it all.
What she means: You don't have choose between having a family and having a career.
Fey is living proof that you can have it all: an adoring husband (composer Jeff Richmond), well-adjusted children (Alice, and another one on the way) and a successful career.
However, it wasn't always easy. Fey went back to work at SNL just five weeks after giving birth. 'NBC has me under contract,' she said. 'The baby and I have only a verbal agreement.'
What she means: Find a strong, female role model.
Fey looks up to Gilda Radner, Lucille Ball and Oprah. Seeing other women succeed, especially in a times that favoured men, gave her the courage to give comedy a try.
What she means: Don't be intimidated by glass ceilings.
Before Fey, SNL had never had a female head writer. But in 1999, after only two years of writing for the show, Fey was given the position.
She credits some of SNL's original ladies (like Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner) for helping pave the way.
What she means: Learn to embrace your mistakes. Some of Fey's best jokes have come out of total bombs.
She's not afraid of failing, even in front of a large studio audience. If you're too afraid of screwing up to try any new ideas, you'll never be successful. 'There are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents,' she writes.
What she means: Be confident.
Women have a bad reputation of saying sorry or speaking in an apologetic tone too often. Unless you have actually have something to be sorry about, be confident.
'Make statements with your actions and your voice,' she writes.
What she means: Competition is gender-neutral.
Fey once had a heated argument with one of the actresses at SNL over a rumour that the show's producer wanted to hire another woman. The unnamed actress worried there wouldn't be enough female parts to go around.
Fey thought this was ridiculous. After all, new sketches were written every week. They could just add more parts! But the actress really believed that having another girl around would threaten her place on the show.
'People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. 'You're up for a promotion. If they go with a woman, it'll be between you and Barbara.'' she writes. 'Don't be fooled.'
What she means: Don't let anyone get in the way of your ambitions. In her book, Fey offers this advice: 'Do your thing and don't care if they like it.'
Fey encountered plenty of career-hindering sexism while working at Second City, a Chicago-based improv troupe. Once, one of the male directors justified cutting a scene because 'The audience doesn't want to see a scene between two women.' However, Fey went on to write plenty of female-friendly sketches, including her ultra-popular stint as Sarah Palin to Amy Poehler's Hilary Clinton.
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