It's hard not to fall instantly in love with Tina Fey. She's wicked smart, obviously funny, and a mom of two — Alice, 7, and Penelope, 1 — dealing with bake sales and working motherhood, just like us. From her time as the first female head writer (and series regular) on Saturday Night Live to her multiple roles as the creator and star of 30 Rock, she's kept us laughing our way through political cycles and television studio politics. Now, she's taking a romantic comedy turn in Admission (in theaters March 22) as a Princeton University admissions officer who must face an applicant who could be the son she gave up for adoption 18 years ago. Lest you think the story becomes sappy, keep in mind that Tina stars alongside Paul Rudd in the flick, so the wisecracks fly nonstop.
I spent some time with the film's stars at a roundtable and asked them about their own experiences with parenting, where they turn for advice, and how realistic it is that our kids could actually attend Princeton. First up, Tina's thoughts.
There was a spot-on scene in the last 30 Rock where — as a new mom — you join an online chat group for moms and get into a catfight. Do you go to mommy blogs in real life?
That was definitely built on experience with things I have seen. I have never . . . I don't know how to post on any of those. So I promise you I have never posted. I have seen people pretending to be me post on Urban Baby. I had a friend call me and say, "Are you on Urban Baby?" I said no. I didn't know what that was. I do think some of them — Urban Baby specifically — have some of the worst human behavior I've ever seen in my life. Terrible. There is no one running [those sites] or they would fix it.
At one point in the film, Portia says where your kid gets into college is a reflection of your parenting. Do you think that's true?
I do think the line is very true. People think it is a referendum on their parenting, it's about how well they did. It's a dangerous trap that we all fall into. Like, I will go too far, like, "we're going to make the nicest cookies for the cookie thing." And then later they are on the ground and it doesn't matter. I think avoiding those kind of traps and just trying to be present for your children is best. It’s a lifelong lesson that I keep trying to learn.
What do you know now that you didn't before you had kids?
I think when your kids are really little, you just think, OK, I am going to look at What to Expect the First Year. But I got into a rut. I would still be treating the 11-month-old with the routine I had set up at 6 months. You kinda learn the longer you do it that their needs keep changing what they need and what they're capable of.
Your daughter Alice is in grade school. Do you think it's harder to get into Princeton or an NYC kindergarten?
A New York City kindergarten, for sure! There's so many kids on this little island. Plus, how can you possibly evaluate a 5-year-old? What if you take them that day and have to poop? If they have to poop, it’s over.
Keep reading for more of our interview with Tina Fey, including what interested her most about her new role.
What about this "mommy role" in Admission interested you?
There are so many roles where women are chasing motherhood and desperate to be mothers. I thought it was very interesting that this character was very clear that she did not want to be a mother and she did not want to be married or experience any of that, and she has to face the reality of this person does exist. So how is that going to work within your life? It was a nice thing I hadn't seen before.
What did you learn about getting your kid into Princeton when they come of age?
Hopefully what we've learned is that it doesn't matter if they don't get into Princeton. They will learn a lot in the Army.