Tina Fey’s next dream project? “A movie about Stonewall where I play all the people,” she deadpans. Until then, the Emmy-winning 30 Rock creator-star will keep making the Netflix streaming series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which returns this spring. Reteaming with comedy cohort Amy Poehler for Sisters, in theaters December 18, the Saturday Night Live alum explains why she always has the LGBT audience in mind.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: What did gay men quote at brunch before Mean Girls?
Tina Fey: I don’t know, but I hope that’s still going on. I have a really weird marketing point in my deal that I don’t get any money when it shows on TBS, but I do get money when it’s quoted at brunch.
Did you anticipate that it would become such a gay classic?
I didn’t, but Damian, the gay character, was in every draft. Someone once asked me, “How come everyone’s sort of paired off at the end but we don’t see what happens to Damian?” I said, “Because it’s a movie about girls.” We should’ve made another movie about Damian.
Your book, Bossypants, details the “four-year-long pride parade” that marched through your house during high school. How did having so many gay and lesbian friends during your formative years make you who you are today?
I’m certainly more open-minded to people’s differences, and it definitely gave me a wider swath of humor styles. I grew up so much in theater, so the gay community has always been a natural part of who I feel like I’m playing to. When you’re writing jokes, you’re always thinking of your friends.
Some have criticized Titus in Kimmy Schmidt for being a gay stereotype. Can we not have an effeminate gay man represented on TV without controversy?
I know people like Titus. If a person exists, it’s fair game. Titus makes Barbie clothes, for example, and that’s based on an old gay friend of mine who worked as a cater-waiter when he first moved to New York. He was too broke to go out, so he’d literally sit inside and sew Barbie clothes to kill time. I try to base everything in some kind of truth. I don’t worry about what the Internet says. Getting in trouble with the Internet is not real. The Internet is not a force you have to obey.
Is it frustrating when someone’s offended by a joke that comes from a loving place?
Well, there’s no consideration of context in comedy these days. There’s also a dangerous desire to silence people when they say something you don’t like. If someone has a crazy opinion, I would prefer they let me hear it so that I can disagree and know who I’m dealing with.
You and Amy Poehler play sisters in Sisters. Is yours a womance against which all other womances should be measured?
With a w? I like that. Yes, and what makes it work is that from the moment we met each other in Chicago in 1992, we’ve had tremendous respect for each other. We started on the same improv team, and we were put together like two beautiful baby lions in a cage who miraculously did not have the impulse to eat each other. What makes it great now is that the only time we see each other is when we work on things — hosting the Golden Globes, doing Sisters — so those experiences are exciting and fun. We’re both thrilled to be there, and hopefully that’s reflected in the work. She and I haven’t really talked about this, but I don’t know if we could ever do a series together. We’re both alphas who like to do our own thing and then meet up occasionally.
When can we expect a full-on Amy-Tina love story?
Ooh, maybe we could do a lesbian period piece like a comedic version of Carol, that movie with Cate Blanchett. Really, we should just do a movie with all the women of SNL and set it on the Isle of Lesbos.
Charlene Kaye has a song called “I’d Go Gay for Tina Fey,” a sentiment shared by many ladies on social media. Why do you have the power to sexually confuse straight women?
I think I might’ve lost it. Maybe because it looks like I’m halfway there? I’ve also been a stepping-stone to help a lot of men realize that they’re gay, so I may just be a transitional person. I’m like human transition lenses.
The Advocate, December 2015/January 2016 issue.