Regina Marie "Jenna" Fischer (born March 7, 1974) is an American actress and director. She is known for her Emmy-nominated portrayal of Pam Beesly on the NBC situation comedy The Office. She has also appeared in films such as Blades of Glory (2007), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), The Promotion (2008), and Hall Pass (2011).
Fischer was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Anne (nÃ©e Miller), is a history teacher, and her father, James E. "Jim" Fischer, is a plastics engineer. She has one younger sister, Emily, a third grade teacher. She first performed at the age of six, when she participated in an acting workshop taught by her mother at Henry School in St. Louis, a workshop also attended by actor Sean Gunn, with whom she grew up.
Fischer attended Pierremont Elementary School in Manchester, Missouri, and Nerinx Hall High School, a private all-girls Catholic school, in Webster Groves, Missouri. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre, as well as a minor in journalism, from Truman State University, where she originally enrolled as a pre-law history major.
Fischer first began her career working in professional theatre. While attending college in Missouri, she performed with a touring Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre group and, upon her move to Los Angeles, began performing Commedia dell'arte with the Zoo District Theatre. Her performance in the company's musical adaptation of the film Nosferatu led to her first agent. She struggled to break into film and television, telling NPR that her first paying film job was a "sex education video for [psychiatric] patients upon their release from UCLA Medical Center". In a Myspace blog written specifically to advise actors beginning their own career, she explained that it took three years before landing her first televised speaking role, a part on Spin City.
She continued to spend the next few years of her career appearing in bit parts in small indie films, such as Employee of the Month, Lucky 13, and The Specials, as well as guest spots on the television shows Six Feet Under, That '70s Show, Cold Case, Miss Match, Strong Medicine, Undeclared, What I Like About You, and Off Centre.
Fischer appeared in friend Peter Alton's 2002 short subject film Les Superficiales. Fischer met Alton at the Zoo District Theatre group, and he later co-wrote and narrated her self-produced film, Lollilove. In 2003, she held a starring role in The Girl's Guide to Summer, a 2003 Instant Films short (a competition similar to the nationally held 48 Hour Film Project, only based in Los Angeles) directed by Instant Film's co-founder (and camera operator) Charles Papert.
While her film career was slowly taking off, Fischer took matters into her own hands, writing, directing and starring in her own mockumentary, LolliLove. The film co-starred her now ex-husband James Gunn, as well as friends Linda Cardellini, Judy Greer, Lloyd Kaufman and Jason Segel. She began participating in The Artist's Way, a self-led creativity seminar in book form. "From doing that book I got this idea... When we started it, it wasnât even supposed to be a real movie. It was just going to be an improv project for James and I to amuse ourselves with." Utilizing a camera she gave Gunn as a wedding present, she filmed preliminary improvisational interviews with her friends in the faux documentary format that would later bring her fame on The Office. "I really feel it was divine intervention that I chose to work in this medium for a year," she said in an interview. "It was the best practice I could have ever gotten for the possibility of being on the show."
Lollilove premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival, the hometown of Fischer and Gunn, in November 2004, and was also shown at the TromaDance Film Festival. For her role in the film, Fischer was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award. Despite the film's contribution to her career, she admitted to a St. Louis arts and entertainment magazine that the experience dissuaded her from any future directing:
The Office and feature films
In 2005, after a succession of mostly improvised auditions similar to her Lollilove experience, Fischer landed the role of Pam Beesly on what would become the NBC hit, The Office, based on the original BBC series. Before her initial audition, casting director Allison Jones advised Fischer, "Dare to bore me." Fischer herself spent several years working as a receptionist and administrative assistant in Los Angeles offices, much like her television counterpart, while struggling to achieve success, and thus felt she was well-suited to the role. "I'm so attached to Pam's journey," she told NPR in 2009. "I just love playing this character so, so much." She received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in 2007.
Soon after The Office premiered, Fischer was focused on the show's success; in an April 2005 interview with her alma materââ'âs student newspaper, she said: "Honestly it would be great to get to play Pam for a long, long time .... I don't have real big aspirations to be a movie star. I would love to be on a long-running hit TV show. You end up playing a defining role." As The Office grew into a success, Fischer's film acting career became more established. In 2006, she co-starred in her then-husband's film, Slither, and in 2007, she filmed supporting roles in The Brothers Solomon, with Will Arnett and Will Forte, Blades of Glory, with Will Ferrell, John Heder, and Amy Poehler, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, alongside John C. Reilly, with whom she co-starred again in 2008's The Promotion, also starring Seann William Scott.
In 2009, Fischer completed filming on the movies Solitary Man, and the indie A Little Help, which opened in the summer of 2010 at the Seattle International Film Festival. Also that summer, she completed filming on the Farrelly Brothers comedy Hall Pass, which was released in February 2011.
Fischer appeared on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2006, participating in the show's eighth tournament, shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, and playing for Catholic Charities' Tsunami Relief.
In 2007 Fischer starred in the music video for Willie Wisely's single "Through Any Window", directed by longtime friend John Cabrera; the opportunity arose because she knew Wisely from work he had done on soundtracks for LolliLove and Tromeo and Juliet, one of her husband's films.
In December of the same year, during the Hollywood writer's strike, Fischer appeared at Sacred Fools Theater Company in episode 25 of Darque Magick, a serialized play written and directed by Jenelle Riley.
In July 2009, Fischer played left field for the National League team in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game as part of the MLB All-Star Week festivities, held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up.
In March 2010, Fischer returned to the area to co-chair an annual auction for Nerinx Hall High School, her alma mater. At the event, she auctioned off a set visit to The Office and multiple autographed props from the show.
Fischer was named an official spokeswoman for Proactiv Skincare Solutions in 2009 and was announced as the voice behind the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Grilled Cheese Academy website in 2010.
Fischer was named as producer of the mid-August through October 2010 run of the critically acclaimed play Sad Happy Sucker, written by her husband Lee Kirk and directed by friend Sean Gunn. The play previously ran as a theatre workshop in February and March 2007.
After finishing The Office, Fischer starred in the Off-Broadway play Reasons to Be Happy, written and directed by Neil LaBute, which ran from May to June 2013.
After Fischer moved to Los Angeles, her childhood friend Sean Gunn helped her get a part in a showcase and then introduced her to his brother, screenwriter James Gunn. That small part in a showcase also led to Fischer getting her first manager. Fischer married James Gunn on October 7, 2000. They announced their separation in September 2007. In a June 2008 interview, Fischer confirmed that she and Gunn had finalized their divorce.
Fischer's engagement to screenwriter Lee Kirk was announced in June 2009. Fischer and Kirk married on July 3, 2010, and have two children: a son born in 2011 and a daughter born in 2014.
Fischer is passionate about animal rescue, and she is involved with the Los Angeles organizations Kitten Rescue and Rescue Rover. Before The Office, she worked for three years doing hands-on rescue work for the organizations. She regularly fosters cats and hosted Kitten Rescue's annual silent auction in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Awards and nominations
- Jenna Fischer at the Internet Movie Database
- Jenna Fischer at Emmys.com