Lessons from Tina Fey

September 25, 2013

As a loyal Wahoo, I can tell you that on my honor, the words, "I want to go to there!" came spewing out of my mouth loudly and excitedly when I read that Tina Fey was going to be speaking at the University of Virginia. As the first speaker of President Sullivan's "Speaker Series for the Arts", Tina was returning to Grounds to tell us all something about the value of the arts. Naturally, I set off to every social networking site I am part of and let everyone know the good news.

Not surprisingly, I was not the only person excited for her arrival! Not only were plenty of Cavaliers highly anticipating her speech, but students from surrounding universities were planning their trips to Charlottesville for that sacred night on September 14th.

30 Rock

So all of us, Wahoos, Charlottesville residents, Griffins, Bulldogs and other Fey fans gathered in the amphitheater waiting for her to take the stage. We were all anticipating her speech to be hilarious; there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to spend the evening doubled over in laughter. There was some uncertainty, though, about what her speech would really entail. Sure we all knew that she was going to talk about the value of the arts, but that seemed too vague. Would she talk about her time here at UVA in depth? Would she talk about her journey through the comedy world, from Second City to SNL to 30 Rock? No one had a real answer, except that it would be a party to attend since, "there ain't no party like a Liz Lemon party, 'cause a Liz Lemon party is mandatory." She was incredibly relatable. She started off by exclaiming that she loved UVA and every minute she spent here, reminding us all that she was once sitting exactly where we were. She spoke casually, sarcastically, and sincerely, making her speech easy to become invested in. That was what was great about Tina Fey’s speech: it made sense. In the competitive atmosphere of UVA with the fear of entering the job market looming overhead, it was a relief to hear someone tell us not to chase money. She reminded us that we should care about what we do, what we create. She told us, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a school play or a dumb TV show, it’s your work. You should care about it so much that people get annoyed with you.” Regardless of the numerous fiascos in her high school production of Dracula, small roles in UVA productions, or a leading role with a note too difficult to sing, Tina Fey loves her work, a trait that is both admirable and inspiring. Tina Fey reminded us about the value of passion and all you can achieve by committing yourself to your passions. I believed Tina Fey. The anecdotes she chose to share and the sarcasm of her speech made it personal but still inspirational. You never felt as though Tina Fey was some incredibly successful alumnus, who you could never become. You really believed that you could find the same success she did. She taught us to value our inspirations, commit ourselves to our passions rather than money, and acknowledge our failures with humor. I will never forget Tina Fey telling me to love what I do so much that it annoys someone. Image Credit: Fanpop.com

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