On February 28, comedy besties Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host a pandemic-friendly, bi-coastal broadcast of the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards. While some viewers will be watching to see who is wearing what, others might notice Fey’s facial scar before they do her outfit.
The comedian rarely talks about the incident, because the back story is anything but funny. Find out the cause of Tina Fey’s scar, and read her thoughts on how it shaped her life as a successful adult.
Tina Fey Was The First Woman Head Writer on Saturday Night Live
Look into Tina Fey’s early career and you’ll learn that she was much more than Jimmy Fallon’s sidekick on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. At 29, she became the first female head writer of the iconic sketch comedy show. She worked on the series for almost a decade, appearing on 130 episodes (and writing for many more.)
“I think I’ve … been very lucky to get to a lot of places at the right time,” Fey told the Houston Chronicle in 2001. “I don’t deny that it probably was harder here at one time… when I got here, people were saying, ‘Oh, it’s really hard there for women.’ I think I had pretty lucky timing.”
The experience was so unique that it served as the premise of NBC’s 30 Rock, which Fey created, wrote, and starred in. The comedy series was such a smash hit that for the duration of its run, it earned 103 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations and won 16. 2009 was a particular stand-out—that year, 30 Rock was nominated for 22 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most in a single year for a comedy series. And when the series wrapped in 2013, the Writers Guild of America West named it the 21st best-written television series of all time.
How Tina Fey Got Her Face Scar
Whether they’ve watched her on SNL, 30 Rock, or one of her feature films, fans of Fey may have noticed that she has a faint scar on the left side of her face. In a 2009 Vanity Fair profile, her husband Jeff Richmond revealed that she had been slashed by a stranger when she was just five years old.
“It was in, like, the front yard of her house,” said Richmond. “And somebody who just came up, and she just thought somebody marked her with a pen.”
The perpetrator was never found. Fey rarely talks about the incident, preferring to stay focused on the merits of her career.
“It’s impossible to talk about it without somehow seemingly exploiting it and glorifying it,” she told the magazine.
But Fey did mention it in her 2011 autobiography Bossypants. “I’m not going to lay out the grisly details for you like a sweeps episode of Dateline,” she wrote. “I only bring it up to explain why I’m not going to talk about it.”
Fey goes on to explain that she learned more from people’s reactions than the attack itself. She wrote that people who inquire about the scar usually reveal something about themselves in the process. “Some people are just dumb: “Did a cat scratch you?” God bless. Those sweet dumdums I never mind… here’s another sort of person who thinks it makes them seem brave or sensitive or wonderfully direct to ask me about it right away.”
Her takeaway was that she had an “inflated sense of self” as a result.
“It wasn’t until years later… I realized people weren’t making a fuss over me because I was some incredible beauty or genius; they were making a fuss over me to compensate for my being slashed.”
And with perfect comic timing, she joked that she intended to keep her many awards, whether they were earned by talent or pity.