Tina Fey Has Some Advice for Artists in the Age of Trump


In a long interview for The Hollywood Reporter — conducted by his excellence David Letterman — Tina Fey put forth some useful pointers for artists in the age of Trump, advice that basically boils down to: Don’t be Leni Riefenstahl.

The interview begins with both parties acknowledging their mutual feelings of anxiety and apprehension post-election, which leads Fey — this year’s recipient of the magazine’s Sherry Lansing Award for pioneering women in entertainment — to discuss how artists can respond with dignity to the many indignities of the upcoming Trump administration:

Fey: In a world where the president makes fun of handicapped people and fat people, how do we proceed with dignity? I want to tell people, “If you do two things this year, watch Idiocracy by Mike Judge and read [Nazi filmmaker] Leni Riefenstahl’s 800-page autobiography [Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir] and then call it a year.” Letterman: Wait a minute. Tell me about Leni Riefenstahl. Fey: She grew up in Germany. She was in many ways a brilliant pioneer. She pioneered sports photography as we know it. She’s the one who had the idea to dig a trench next to the track for the Olympics and put a camera on a dolly. But she also rolled with the punches and said, “Well, he’s the fuhrer. He’s my president. I’ll make films for him.” She did some terrible, terrible things. And I remember reading [her book] 20 years ago, thinking, “This is a real lesson, to be an artist who doesn’t roll with what your leader is doing just because he’s your leader.” Letterman: My impression of this woman is that she was the sister of Satan. Fey: She was in many ways. But what she claimed in the book was, “He was the president, so what was I supposed to do?” And I feel a lot of people are going to start rolling that way.

Later, Fey mentions her former 30 Rock co-star Alec Baldwin’s Twitter feud with our dear president-elect, who hasn’t taken kindly to Baldwin’s impression of him on Saturday Night Live . “At one level, it just makes me feel sick for the state of the world because it’s so beneath a president,” Fey says, “but also my feeling is: ‘You think you’re good at being a jerk on Twitter? You will now face the grandmaster of being a jerk on Twitter.'”

The nine-time Emmy winner also admits she feels awkward about awards, and that she’s “a little nervous” about accepting the Sherry Lansing Award, named after the first woman head of a Hollywood studio. “Have I really done enough to warrant this?” Fey ponders. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘Well, what would a guy do? He’d take it.'”