Amy Meredith Poehler was born in Newton, Massachusetts on September 16, 1971 to parents Eileen and William Poehler, two school teachers. She has one younger brother, Greg Poehler, who is a producer and actor. She shares two sons with Will Arnett, Archie (b. 2008) and Abel (b. 2010).
Amy grew up in nearby Burlington, Massachusetts, which she describes as a blue-collar town. When she was 10 years old, Amy played Dorothy in her school’s production of The Wizard Of Oz and it inspired her love of performing. She continued acting in school plays at Burlington High School and also participated in other activities during her time in high school, including Student Council, soccer and softball. Growing up, her favorite performers were Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, and Catherine O’Hara.
After graduating from high school in 1989, she enrolled at Boston College. During college, Amy became a member of the improv comedy troupe My Mother’s Fleabag. She graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications in 1993.
After graduation, she moved to Chicago in 1993 to pursue a professional career in comedy, joining the comedy theaters ImprovOlympics and Second City. She took her first improv class taught by Charna Halpern at ImprovOlympic. Early on, Amy worked as a waitress and at other small jobs to earn money. Through ImprovOlympic, Amy learned from Del Close and she was introduced to Tina Fey. They became friends immediately. Amy and Tina joined a Second City touring company at the same time, and Amy went on to join one of Second City’s main companies where Tina was her eventual replacement.
In 1995, Amy left Chicago to join The Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) alongside Horatio Sanz, Ian Roberts, Neil Flynn, and Matt Besser. In 1996, a core group of four UCB members, Poehler, Besser, Roberts, and Matt Walsh moved to New York City. The “UCB Four” began performing shows at small venues around the city which evolved into four regular live shows after a few months. To earn money outside of the shows, UCB taught improv classes. Amy also started making appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, often playing her recurring role as Andy Richter’s little sister, Stacy.
In 1998, Comedy Central debuted UCB’s eponymous half-hour sketch comedy series. During the show’s second season, the group founded an improv theater/training center in New York City on W. 22nd Street, occupying the space of a former strip club. The UCB Theatre held shows seven nights a week in addition to offering classes in sketch comedy writing and improv. In the summer of 2000, Comedy Central canceled the Upright Citizens Brigade program after its third season, though the UCB Theatre continued to operate. Poehler, Besser, Roberts, and Walsh are considered the founders of UCB and have been credited with popularizing long-form improv in New York. By 2011, UCB had two theaters in New York and a theater in Los Angeles with 8,000 students taking classes per year.
Amy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live at the start of the season 27, in 2001. Amy made her debut in the first episode produced after the 9/11 attacks. She was promoted from featured player to full cast member midway through her first season, becoming the first woman and only the third person ever (after Harry Shearer and Eddie Murphy) to do so. When Jimmy Fallon left the show in 2004, Amy joined Tina Fey as a co-anchor of Weekend Update. Amy, Maya Rudolph, and Tina Fey were among the show’s biggest stars that season and contributed to a shift in the show to featuring more female-driven sketches. When Tina left to create and star in 30 Rock, Seth Meyers joined Amy at the Weekend Update anchor desk. In 2008, Poehler was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the first year SNL cast members were eligible for the category.
The SNL premiere of the season 34 opened with Tina and Amy as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, respectively, discussing sexism in political campaigning. The sketch, which Amy co-wrote with Seth, became the biggest viral video of the year. Days after the season premiere, NBC announced that Amy, pregnant with her first child at the time, would not return after her upcoming maternity leave. On the October 25th episode, Seth announced during Weekend Update that Amy was in labor. At the end of Weekend Update, special guest Maya Rudolph and cast member Kenan Thompson sang a custom rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” for Amy. She had been rehearsing for that week’s show until the day before the birth.
After giving birth, Amy appeared during a pre-taped “SNL Presidential Bash ’08” primetime special on November 3. Despite the prior announcement that she would not return after her maternity leave, she came back for two more live episodes. During the December 13 Weekend Update, Amy announced that it was her last show. Saturday Night Live aired a special, “The Best of Amy Poehler,” in April 2009.
During her pregnancy, Amy had one of her busiest years on SNL, portraying Hillary Clinton in a series of skits about the 2008 election. When John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, Amy performed as Hillary Clinton alongside Tina’s spot-on impression of Palin. When the real Palin appeared on the show, a nine-months-pregnant Poehler performed a gangster rap about the Alaska governor, who swayed to the beat beside Poehler.
Following the success of The Office, NBC ordered a new series from producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. In July 2008, Variety reported that Amy was in final negotiations to star in the still-untitled series from Daniels and Schur. Poehler and Schur were friends from their time together at SNL where Schur worked as a writer. Signing Amy, who was pregnant with her first child, meant the new series would have to forgo a promised post-Super Bowl debut and cut its first season short, but Daniels and Schur chose to push back the series for her. On July 21, 2008, NBC announced Poehler’s new series, Parks and Recreation, saying the project would not be a direct spin-off of The Office, as previously speculated.
Parks and Recreation premiered on NBC on April 9, 2009, between two episodes of The Office. An ensemble cast including Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Schneider, and Nick Offerman joined Amy. She played Deputy Director of the Parks Department, Leslie Knope, in the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana. Parks and Rec had a total of seven seasons. For her work on the show, Amy received multiple Emmy nominations as an actress, writer, and producer. In 2014, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy at the 71st Golden Globe Awards. The show has 24 awards and 140 nominations.
In 1999, Amy had a small role in the movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. The following year, she was cast in the film Wet Hot American Summer. It was the first film from David Wain, who cast Amy based on her work with UCB. The film, which cost only $1.8 million to make, was not a success initially when it was released in 2001. It gained a following after its release on DVD and it is now considered a cult classic.
In 2004, Amy starred in the film Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey, playing the now-famous cool mom, Mrs. George. Tina wrote the role of self-described “cool mom” with Amy in mind, however, Fey and director Mike Waters had to push for Amy’s casting. The studio had been wary of casting too many SNL cast members and were concerned that Poehler was too young to play the mother of Rachel McAdams, who is only seven years younger than her. Amy filmed the role in Toronto during the week while filming SNL. The movie grossed $129 million at the box office worldwide and saw its popularity continue to rise after its release on DVD and it’s also considered a cult classic now.
Also in 2004, she had a small role in the film Envy. She also guest-starred in five episodes of Arrested Development, which starred her then-husband, Will Arnett.
In 2006, she had small roles in films such as Southland Tales and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. In 2007, she starred in Blades of Glory and Mr. Woodcock. Other film credits include Hamlet 2 (2008), Spring Breakdown (2009), Freak Dance (2010).
In 2008, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler starred in the comedy Baby Mama. he movie was written and directed by Michael McCullers. The plot concerns Kate (Fey), a businesswoman, who wants a child but, discovering she has only a million-to-one chance of getting pregnant, decides to find a surrogate: Angie (Poehler), a white-trash schemer.
Amy co-created, produced, and starred in an animated series for Nickelodeon titled The Mighty B!, about Bessie Higgenbottom, a “sweet, merit-badge-obsessed girl scout”. The character of Bessie was inspired by a character Poehler performed doing improv. The show had two seasons and in 2009 and 2010, Poehler earned Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.
In September 2008, Amy and Meredith Walker and Amy Miles founded Smart Girls at the Party, an online community and digital web series aimed at empowering girls. The first season premiered online on November 17, 2008, with Mattel’s Barbie signed on as the lead sponsor. Smart Girls at the Party returned in 2012 as part of the YouTube Original Channel Initiative that focused upon the creation of new content. The new Smart Girls at the Party YouTube Channel (now named Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls) went live on July 2, 2012, including new episodes of the series along with additional shows by Poehler, Walker, and Miles.
Broad City grew out of a web series starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. In 2011, Jacobson and Glazer used their connections at UCB to approach Amy about starring in the finale of their web series. She agreed to appear in it and then joined Jacobson and Glazer to executive produce a television series. After initially selling a script to FX, the project ultimately landed at Comedy Central, where it aired for five years until its 2019 series finale. Amy appeared in the season one finale.
In 2012, Amy made guest appearances in 30 Rock and Louie. In 2013, she starred in the film A.C.O.D. alongside her Parks and Rec co-star Adam Scott. She also appeared in The Greatest Event in Television History, also with Adam. In the same year, she appeared in an uncredited role at the end of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and starred in the movie Are You Here.
Poehler and Fey co-hosted the Golden Globe Awards ceremony for the first time in 2013. They co-hosted again in 2014 as part of a three-year contract. Gilbert Cruz, of the Vulture website, wrote: “They killed it last year with their opening monologue and they did so again this year.” The 2014 show garnered its highest ratings in ten years. 2015 marked the third successive time Poehler and Fey hosted the Golden Globe Awards. Before the event, they confirmed it would be their last time.
In 2014, Amy starred in the movie They Came Together alongside Paul Rudd. The film is a satirical romantic comedy directed by David Wain and written by Wain and Michael Showalter. It is a parody of romantic comedies infused with Showalter and Wain’s absurd approach.
Also in 2014, Amy released her memoir Yes Please. Topics covered in the book include body image, parenthood, and learning about the limitations of physical appearance. The book debuted at number one on The New York Times Best-Seller list.
Amy has made guest appearances on TV shows such as Kroll Show (2014-15), Welcome to Sweden (2014-15), Maya & Marty (2016), Difficult People (2017). Welcome to Sweden is a Swedish sitcom that premiered in March 2014 and began airing on NBC in the United States three months later. It is based on the experiences of Greg Poehler, who moved with his girlfriend to her native country of Sweden in 2006. Amy Poehler makes cameo appearances in multiple episodes as herself, a celebrity client of her brother’s character, a former New York tax accountant. She is also co-executive producer with him.
Amy has made several guest appearances on animated TV Shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants (2005), O’Grady (2006), Napoleon Dynamite (2012), The Simpsons (2005, 2014), and The Awesomes (2014-15).
Amy has also voiced several characters in animated films. Her voice-over credits include: Shrek the Third (2007), Horton Hears a Who! (2008), Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil (2011), and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (2011), The Secret World of Arrietty (2012), Free Birds, and Inside Out (2015).
In Pixar’s Inside Out, Amy provides the voice for the main character, Joy, an emotion living inside an 11-year-old girl. Amy also received screen credit for writing some of Joy’s dialogue. The film has a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and went on to gross $857 million worldwide.
In 2015, Netflix revived the Wet Hot American Summer franchise with the release of an eight-episode prequel series (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp) starring most of the film’s original cast and in 2017, an eight-episode sequel series (Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later) set ten years after the original film.
2015 also saw the release of Sisters, a comedy film directed by Jason Moore and written by Paula Pell, in which Amy Poehler and Tina Fey collaborate again. The film centers on adult sisters Kate and Maura Ellis, who are summoned back to their childhood home by their parents to clean out their bedroom before the house gets sold. They decide to have one last party at the house but things get out of control.
In 2017, Amy and Will Ferrell starred in The House. The film follows a couple who open an underground casino in their friend’s house in order to pay for their daughter’s college tuition.
In March 2017, NBC ordered to series a Poehler-produced crafting series, then-titled The Handmade Project. The show retitled Making It, debuted on NBC in July 2018 with Amy and her Parks and Recreation co-star Nick Offerman as co-hosts. The debut episode tied for the highest-rated premiere of summer 2018 and earned Poehler and Offerman a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program.
Amy, along with Natasha Lyonne and Leslye Headland, created and executive produced the comedy-drama series Russian Doll for Netflix, which premiered in 2019. The genesis of the series started seven years earlier after Poehler remarked Lyonne was always “the oldest girl in the world.” Poehler, Lyonne, and Headland put together an all-female team of writers and directors. The series debuted on Netflix with a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Amy made her film directorial debut with Wine Country, which premiered on Netflix in 2019. She also stars in the film along with Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, and Tina Fey. The screenplay is loosely based on a real trip the actresses took together to Napa Valley.
In 2020, FOX released Duncanville, an animated sitcom co-created by Amy Poehler, Mike Scully, and Julie Scully. Amy provides the voices for two main characters: Duncan and Annie Harris.
At the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour, NBC announced Poehler and Fey would host the Golden Globes again in 2021.
Amy has several projects in the work such as Moxie, a Netflix film adaptation of the 2017 novel Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. Amy is set to direct and produce the movie. She is also producing many television projects such as Three Busy Debras (Adult Swim), Untitled Tracy Oliver Project (Amazon), The Mother-in-Law (NBC) and Division One (Peacock).
Last updated on March 22, 2020.