Features

Part 2: Overachievers

They act! They write! They produce! They rule!

Amy Poehler
Parks and Recreation
Amy Poehler treats Hollywood like Leslie Knope treats Pawnee: She's all over it. Take ''The Debate,'' the Emmy-nominted Parks and Recreation episode that she starred in, wrote, and directed. Or her deft cohosting of the Golden Globes with Tina Fey. Or her three upcoming movies, including the romantic spoof They Came Together. Or the Comedy Central pilot she's producing, Broad City. Or the quasi-memoir/inspirational-humor book she's writing. ''I'm certainly happy that I didn't become famous young in my career,'' says Poehler, 41. ''I was allowed in my 20s to just do my work and get better, and I didn't have to learn so much in public.'' Here is Poehler's advice for making it in show business.

1. Try not to put sexy pictures of yourself on the Internet, because I'm told they never go away.
2. Be yourself. No one else can be you.
3. Be okay with writing really bad stuff for a long time—just keep doing it. The act of doing it, the muscle memory of it, is more important than how it is. That's why improv was so instrumental for me, because you would do shows every night, and they would suck every night, and one night they'd be okay, and it would sustain you for another year.
4. Tell people you're related to someone famous.
5. If you can, keep your own hair.
6. Always have a tuxedo in your trunk.
7. Get a cool, funky bike that you ride around, and everyone's like, ''Oh, there's that girl on that bike!''
8. Sleep your way around with everybody—men, women, anyone you can—and hope for the best.
9. Bring a baby into an audition. It's a really good distraction.
10. Just get one of those ''famous'' apps, put it on your iPhone, and go collect your prizes.

Mindy Kaling
The Mindy Project
Kaling earned a huge promotion when she went from writer and actor on The Office to helming and starring on her own Fox comedy, The Mindy Project. We'd gotten a taste of Kaling's sharp, quippy voice in her best-selling book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), and on Twitter (@mindykaling), butt her fresh point of view—that chasing perfect rom-commy love and being awesome in your careers aren't mutually exclusive—has been a welcome addition to the sticom scene. The 33-year-old, as chatty as Kelly Kapoor but as smart and hilarious as, well, Mindy Kaling, talked to EW about finally getting to be the boss lady.—Stephen Lee

''I'm very decisive, which I think is a good quality in a boss, but the flip side of that is that I'm very impatient as well. When I'm on set, I want to be in the writers' room, and vice versa. I hope I'm grateful. I hope I'm not a screamer—but if you asked the writers they'll tell you one thing, ask the cast, they'll tell you another, so I have no idea. You know how Michael Scott on The Office used to [think] that he was beloved by everybody? I'm in fear of falling into that Michael Scott trap.

My first big break was when Greg Daniels saw me in a play called Matt & Ben and hired me to be a writer and an actor for The Office. At that point they'd only shot the pilot. Probably Greg's biggest advice to me was to be kind, which is something that seems basic, but it's actually come in handy. When you are in charge and you're as impatient as I am, remembering to be kind is a really good thing. Linwood Boomer, who was a consulting producer [on Mindy] and created Malcolm in the Middle, his advice to me was to be in the best shape of my life. At first I thought it was because as an actress it's good to be in great shape, but it wasn't because of that. It was because when you make a network television show with so many episodes per year, it's going to take a huge toll on you. I did not start at the best shape of my life, and I wish I took his advice.

[In 10 years I see myself as] superrich, with three cute little kids, superfat, really fashionable, living in some coastal town of California with a handsome, preferably comparably rich and fat guy. Eating awesome food. Emailing articles to The New Yorker that they always accept, even if they're only halfway there. Shooing away weird teenagers who come to our house trying to get a photo of us—having this Salinger-ish lifestyle. And walking to an independent theater three blocks away to see whatever new Lena Dunham movie is out.''

The Once and Future Queen
Tina Fey

On Jan. 31, after seven brilliantly bizarre seasons, we finally had to say goodbye to 30 Rock and Liz Lemon. While the 42-year-old will next be seen on the big screen (Admission on March 22, The Muppets...Again! next year), Fey's four-year deal with Universal TV means that someday soon—or, more likely, in fall 2014—the funniest woman in the free world will bring her genius back to TV. Until then, Ms. Fey, we're holding a space in our hearts and DVRs for you. And we're not alone.

''Part of the reason why I wanted to do television was 30 ROck. It made me fall back in love with TV.''—Zooey Deschanel

'' I met Tina at the Emmys, and I was shocked to be in her physical presence. I was unable to speak! I used to see her in the elevator at Silvercup [Studios] and be so scared that I'd turn toward the wall, because it was like 'What if she sees that I'm staring at her?' Full-scale breakdown!''—Lena Dunham

''I always feel unoriginal bringing up Tina as my inspiration, but she's everyone's inspiration for a reason... And Tina's got a rocking body! Even though we're probably both surrounded by the same temptations of the writers'-room junk food. I think that, to me, if you ignore all the other really smart, wonderful qualities about her, that's one of the things I admire most about her.''—Mindy Kaling

Originally posted Feb 01, 2013 Published in issue #1245 Feb 08, 2013 Order article reprints