On Tuesday, the Tribeca Film Festival hosted a conversation between Tina Fey and Damian Holbrook, a senior writer for TV Guide and Fey's childhood friend. Their wide-ranging Q&A covered everything from the work ethic she inherited from her late father, her performance as Sally Bowles in a UVA production of Cabaret ("I am continually grateful that I did those plays in college, before phones"), and coming up the Second City ranks with Amy Poehler in Chicago.
Although the Golden Globes-hosting duo and Sisters co-stars go way back, don't expect Fey and Poehler to collaborate on a long-term TV project any time soon.
"We’re regarded as a comedy team, which is certainly fine by me," Fey said of her fellow Saturday Night Live alum. "People sometimes do say, 'Why don't you guys do a series together?' And the funny thing is, and I think we both know this to be true, it's because we’re actually both alphas. So it works in short spurts. But it might go a little Dynasty."
Though a Fey and Poehler-starring sitcom may be off the table, Fey told Holbrook that working with and hiring women is important to her. She described a day spent working on an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode that was written by Meredith Scardino, directed by Claire Scanlon, and featured a fight among the women in the bunker orchestrated by stunt coordinator Jill Brown.
"I was like, 'I’m so happy! I've never been happier,' Fey recalled.
Speaking on the day of the New York primary, Fey said she misses the rush of working at Saturday Night Live during a presidential election. She joked that the 2008 race—during which she played Sarah Palin on SNL—looks like "an episode of The Andy Griffith Show" compared to the present campaign.
"Now it’s like, 'Ryan Murphy brings you Horror Election.' …I’m yelling at my TV every morning in front of my kids," she said.
Turning back to her early days on SNL, Holbrook asked Fey about the unflattering hairstyles she had during her "Weekend Update" tenure. The former SNL head writer said that her first hair transformation took place the morning of an Entertainment Weekly photoshoot starring herself and co-anchor Jimmy Fallon in 2000. First she was given a "triangular haircut," then a "full-tilt Joan Jett shag."
"You know what you need for that haircut? Jane Fonda’s face," Fey joked, explaining that she was "too dumb" and inexperienced to protest at the time.
On the most recent season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, co-creator Fey plays Kimmy's accidental therapist, a role she'd "backpocketed" for herself since the very beginning—unlike season one's Marcia Clark parody, which she says she was “coerced” by the writers into playing.
She's already worked as an writer, producer, and actor on the show, so will she ever direct? “Never say never,” Fey said, but admitted, “I just don’t understand or really care about cameras.”
Before the third season of the Netflix comedy goes into production—star Ellie Kemper is currently pregnant—Fey will be working full-time on adapting Mean Girls into a musical.
Fey shared that there were "about 12 different drafts" of her original Mean Girls script—which originally focused more on Fey's character, an adult mediator among bullying teens—the first of which would surely have been R-rated for language. It's unclear yet to what extent the 2004 movie will be updated for the age of smartphones: "The thing about social media is that it doesn’t dramatize well," Fey explained.
As for social media, Fey herself doesn't partake. "I George W. Bush it," Fey said, referring to the former president's self-preserving habit of not consulting newspapers. She's an infrequent reader of comments and reviews, too.
"If I'm in it, I sort of don't, because then it can just be too painful," she said. "…It'll be there in five years."
Season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is out on Netflix now. Expect season three in May 2017.
Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.