Actors Studio Rewind: Tina Fey on SNL and Diversity

The actress jokes about being a female writer on the show.

Since Inside the Actors Studio launched in 1994, James Lipton has interviewed just about every major actor and actress on the planet, getting them to open up about secrets of their craft, their personal lives—and, of course, what they'd hear when they arrive at the Pearly Gates. Each week, we'll take a look back at an amazing IAS moment. Today, Tina Fey talks about her time on SNL.

Saturday Night Live has come under fire this season from critics and former cast members over the issue of having a diverse cast. The topic became fodder for more than a few jokes when Scandal’s Kerry Washington hosted on Saturday. But as Tina Fey suggested back in March of this year when she appeared on Inside the Actors Studio, the sketch comedy often lags when it comes to reflecting cultural progress.

Fey explained that back in the mid ’90s, when she started writing for the show, “word on the street was that they were looking to hire a couple women writers. They had strong women cast members at the time. They had Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer and Cheri Oteri, and they wanted people to write for them.” James Lipton quotes a New Yorker essay in which Fey wrote: “Only in comedy does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.” Fey eventually went on to become SNL’s first female head writer.

Fey also opened up about how her passion for television and the arts came about. "Being allowed to stay up much too young to understand it, but to watch this exciting new phenomenon, Monty Python's Flying Circus," she says. "I watched the Golden Age of sitcoms—Mary Tyler Moore, Newhart and Carol Burnett."

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