The Office star Jenna Fischer became a household name through her portrayal of Dunder Mifflin receptionist Pam Beesly. Fischer’s romantic storyline with John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) became a main draw for viewers.
Sharing her journey to stardom in a 2017 book, Fischer spills details on a chance meeting with a Saturday Night Live alum that strongly impacted her aspiring career as an actor.
Jenna Fischer did Pam Beesly’s job pre-‘Office’
While trying to make a name for herself in showbiz, Fischer had to work various jobs to make ends meet.
“I earned my living as an administrative assistant for seven years as a struggling actress, so I had many office jobs,” she told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “I could never have anticipated that I was going to end up playing a receptionist or a secretary on a television show at the time.”
The Office alum credits her previous administrative experience for helping her land the role that launched her to stardom.
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“Ultimately, having worked in an office I think gave me details to my character and world that I wouldn’t have had if I’d never worked in an actual office,” Fischer shared.
Jenna Fischer crashes an ‘SNL’ party
In her 2017 book The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, Fischer chronicles her experience as a struggling actor and offers advice to those entering the uber competitive field. The Office star describes sneaking into a party one night held for Saturday Night Live in the hopes of networking with some cast members.
“As I perused the room, I noticed Molly Shannon was nearby. Jackpot,” Fischer wrote. “I loved this woman. She was (and still is) one of my acting idols … She was surrounded by press, so I crossed the room and carefully inserted myself into the circle.”
Once the reporters moved on to someone else, Fischer seized her moment with Shannon. “I said, ‘Hi, I’m not really supposed to be here,’” Fischer recalled. “‘I’m an aspiring actress, new to LA, and I just want to say that I really love what you do.”
Words of wisdom from Molly Shannon
Rather than brushing Fischer aside with a simple nicety, Shannon gave her some sound advice.
“She turned to face me, looked in in the eyes, and said, ‘Don’t give up. Whatever you do. Just don’t give up, okay?’” Fischer wrote. “‘It took me ten years to get on SNL. I walked around and no one knew who I was. Then I got on SNL and it changed overnight. You just never know. So don’t give up. Ten years. Ten years. It’s hard, okay? Good luck. You can do it.’”
Shannon’s advice and encouragement gave Fischer the resolve she needed to continue her acting journey.
“I’m not overstating things when I say that this moment was one of the most important moments of my budding career,” the Splitting Up Together star wrote in praise of Shannon. “I had started to doubt that I could ever make it. But here was Molly Shannon telling me it took her a decade to get noticed. She’s like the funniest, most talented woman ever, and it took her ten years! Finally, someone who told it like it was!”
Thankfully, Fischer took Shannon’s advice and earned her place in sitcom history.
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