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Tina Fey on her new film Admission, Feminism, Motherhood and Lily Tomlin

Tina Fey on her new film Admission, Feminism, Motherhood and Lily Tomlin

At a recent press conference in New York, Tina Fey said that feminism remains a factor in choosing her projects:

Feminism is certainly something that appeals to me and I certainly try to avoid any roles that would offend me.

In the new film Admission directed by Paul Weitz and written by Karen Croner co-starring Paul Rudd and out on March 8th, Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer.  She’s a feminist at heart that has lived by the book and has made a choice not to be a mother. When she finds out that a child she gave birth to is applying to Princeton, she finds herself bending the admission rules and puts her future at risk. Fey said she was attracted to the script for a few reasons:

It was such a rich story. There are so many roles where women are chasing motherhood and desperate to experience it. I thought it was clear that this woman was very clear that did not want to be a mother and she did not want to be married.  She has to face the reality that this person does actually exist and how will this work within her life. It was a nice thing I hadn’t seen before.

Weitz, best known for his Academy Award nominated film About a Boy and stories that generally center around fathers and sons, was eager to work with her when it came to choosing the actress who would play his first female protagonist.

I heard that there were women.  I wanted to tell their stories.

Seriously, I hadn’t yet had a film with a clear female lead.  It’s fun to be in this terrain of comedy-drama because that’s so much of what real life is about. Tina’s character has made a decision in life that she won’t be a parent but has a boomerang effect that every year this kid she gave up for adoption is one year closer to the college essays that’s she reading and will be a part of the group that is touring the campus.  I liked someone making a decision with logic and a hard mind but having to face the crack in the decision.

Tina’s character has been raised by an ardent feminist, played by Lily Tomlin, who authored The Masculine Myth thirty years ago, Portia’s character is strong yet flawed. On working with Tomlin, Fey smiled and said:

I was so star-struck to be meeting her yet alone trying to act opposite her. She was so warm, so into doing everything fully and doing it right. Every scene has a complicated, physical thing that’s she’s doing.  She’s incredible.  She was making sausage, for real.  She is so electric as a personality on screen.  If there’s any slight change or variation in the take, you can feel her taking it in and being excited by it. She has an improviser’s spirit where she’s constantly really genuinely listening to her scene partner, reacting to what they are doing.

Fey is keeping herself busy since ending her 30 Rock run.  She recently extended her partnership with NBC Universal Television for another three years to create, write and produce television series and programs for NBC.  Next month she’s heading to Europe to co-star in the “Muppets” sequel. It looks like this is the beginning of a busy film career for Fey.  An author, screenwriter and Emmy-winning television star, Fey hasn’t been featured in a lot of films over the last decade. She co-starred and wrote Mean Girls in 2004 and starred in Baby Mama and Date Night. She was also a co-star in The Invention of Lying, Ricky Gervais’ 2009 comedy. The two actors will be reunited in the next “Muppets” film.


Holly Rosen Fink is a writer and marketer living in Westchester, NY.

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