In Sisters, superstar Amy Poehler and her onscreen/offscreen BFF Tina Fey play sisters who throw one last epic party at their parents’ house to relive their high school glory days. Also along for the ride are a half-dozen comedy standouts including fellow SNLers past and present: Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Kate McKinnon, plus Dianne Wiest, Hamilton’s Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Girls’ Greta Lee, who deserves breakout buzz for her subtly subversive scenes opposite Poehler, who cast her in an NBC pilot last year.
Suffice it to say the Poehler-Fey squad rolls deep in sisterhood, and when they do, so do their films. As secretive cabals of Hollywood movers and shakers plot ways to boost the estrogen in film and television, the Golden Globe winner and Smart Girls co-founder and Fey, who also executive-produced the Dec. 18 release, are leading by example.
“There are so many incredibly talented, funny women right now in their 30s and 40s, including women in Sisters like Maya Rudolph and Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Leslie Jones and [Amy] Schumer—all of these people that are creating all this stuff that’s exciting to see,” Poehler told The Daily Beast.
Her Paper Kite Productions came onboard early to produce Broad City and also produces Difficult People for Hulu, “two shows [that] are female-driven comedies written by women, created by women, and told from the female point of view,” said Poehler.
Last fall Poehler’s shingle sold two more female-driven sitcoms to ABC and NBC. And after Sisters, she’s set to produce a pair of feature films, basketball comedy Balls and high school-set Schooled, for Universal, the studio that scored an Oscar nomination and a global box office hit by giving some of the funniest women in Hollywood an R-rated showcase in 2011’s Bridesmaids.
“Even on Parks I was very excited to make Leslie Knope a character that felt like a real feminist character, with a female relationship that felt like one I’ve seen in real life but not on TV,” she said.
Back in September Poehler joined forces on the Emmys stage with comedy’s other great Amy: Amy Schumer. “Hello,” the duo announced, sharing presenting duties. “We are Amy.” Their show-stealing appearance skewered Hollywood’s gendered double standards months before Schumer blasted them to smithereens with her “beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless” near-nude pictorial this week.
Speaking with The Daily Beast, Poehler had high praise for her fellow Amy for baring almost all for Pirelli. “Amy Schumer’s a queen. She’s hilarious. I love her work, and her,” she said. “She’s fuckin’ hot as shit in that picture and her legs are amazing. I’d give anything to have her legs.”
“She’s just a very authentic person, and I think people can sense it right away from her, in her work,” Poehler continued. “She’s successful because she’s so funny. I think Trainwreck was a great example of her specific voice and the audience wanting to hear it, and the talent rising to the top.”
Comedy needs its Amys. But the industry’s ongoing conversations about gender pay disparity, shamefully low percentages of women directors behind the camera, and the federal investigation into gender discrimination in Tinseltown illuminate how badly other genres need to embrace more female voices, too. Poehler offered a metaphor from the trenches.
“I like the feeling of giving people more room and opportunity to get to the starting line of the race,” she said. “But the conversation about a woman’s place in all of this can become a little fatiguing. Because once you’re at the starting line, you look around and see other people you respect—Oh, she’s here! He’s here! I respect you! I respect you! And the gun goes off and the race starts, and while you’re running people ask you, ‘What’s it like running in the race?’
“‘Is it hard running in the race?’”
“‘… But can I run it though?’”
“There’s a little bit about having to talk about running the race while you’re running the race that can slow you down and get in the way of running the race,” Poehler said. “But,” she added, “one must be given the chance to get to the race. I’d like to try to get more numbers of people to the marathon, and then once the marathon starts maybe we can all just run and see who wins.”