Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 39 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member every other week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure.
After three and a half years and over 120 SNL cast member profiles, it's time to end this column the way it began — by highlighting one of my favorite women to ever call SNL home. She's best known for her time on SNL and 30 Rock, but for America's many young women who consider themselves awkward, frumpy comedy nerds, Tina Fey's impact and inspiration as a trailblazing creator extends far beyond her TV and movie credits.
Born in 1970, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey grew up in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia. She developed an early interest in comedy staying up late on Saturdays to watch episodes of SNL and SCTV, and during her middle and high school years, Fey — an honor student and self-described "supernerd" — was in the drama club, tennis team, singing groups, and the school newspaper, where she served as a co-editor and anonymously wrote a recurring satirical column. Speaking in an interview with The Believer, Fey explained her high school yearbook prediction that she'd be "very, very fat" in ten years: "I was just trying to cover my bases. If I did turn out to be a pudgy loser, I'd be able to say, 'See, I told you.'"
With a comedy career in mind, Fey graduated from the University of Virginia in 1992 with a degree in drama and moved to Chicago, where she worked a day job at the Evanston YMCA while taking improv classes at night at The Second City under legendary teacher Del Close. Through the esteemed Chicago theatre she also first met talents like Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Adam McKay, and Scott Adsit, and she eventually earned a spot on the SC touring company. Fey's quick wit and improv skills soon caught the attention of SNL's Lorne Michaels, and Fey was officially hired as a writer in 1997. While SC alum Adam McKay was co-head writer at the time (alongside Tim Herlihy), Fey would take over the job herself just two years later for SNL's landmark 25th season, making her the first female head writer in the show's history. READ MORE