Fey was recently awarded the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award in honor of her leadership and work on behalf of women in Hollywood, joining a a star-studded list of previous recipients, including Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Jane Fonda.
"This one makes me a little nervous. Have I really done enough to warrant this?" she said to David Letterman in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview when he asked if she enjoys getting awards.
Though she's certainly not cocky, Fey has learned to own her success. "Sometimes I tell myself, 'Well, what would a guy do? He'd take it,'" she told Letterman. "They wanted to give me that Mark Twain Prize [for humor] in 2009, and I said, 'I don't think this is appropriate.' And Lorne Michaels said to me, 'Just take it while your parents are alive,' which is very smart."
Fey, 46, has been hard at work since she emerged as the first female head writer of "Saturday Night Live." She's created, written and starred in some of the most popular comedic TV shows and movies in recent history, including "Mean Girls," "30 Rock" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." She's even written a best-selling memoir, "Bossypants," and is in the process of developing a "Mean Girls" musical.
And somewhere in between, she's managed to raise two daughters.
"Parenting is a nonstop, endless horizon of anxiety," Letterman said in their interview. "Is this a weight that you have to carry: 'How will my girls be treated? Will they be able to take care of themselves?'"
"I worry," Fey answered, "[but] I have confidence that they are both strong enough to fight back, and I think they will feel empowered to call attention to any wrongdoing in their lives." She added that kids "augment your life and your perspective. And they wear you out. There's a Stephen Sondheim song, 'Being Alive.' It's about how people you love just wear you out and irritate you and sit in your chair and make you lose sleep. But it's what life is."
When the two went on to talk about women in comedy, Fey spoke about the network of friends and former colleagues she built at "SNL."
"I have a group of women that I worked with at SNL — Maya Rudolph, Emily Spivey, Paula Pell, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch — and we talk as a group through the computer every single day," she told Letterman. "Dozens of times a day. And it's very nice. It's something we've come to in our 40s. It was easy when we worked at SNL: You're on top of each other 60 hours a week. So it's nice that we are maintaining this friendship."
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