’30 Rock’ Had to Film Around Tina Fey and Jane Krawkowski’s Pregnancies in the Same Year

On the set of the TV show 30 Rock, navigating cast member pregnancies got particularly tricky. The series dealt with not one but two leading ladies’ growing families simultaneously. Both Tina Fey (Liz Lemon) and Jane Krakowski (Jenna Maroney) were pregnant in the same year.

Tina Fey’s pregnancy caused a filming delay for ’30 Rock’

30 rock pregnancy
Actors Tina Fey (L) and Jane Krakowski attend the NBC Upfronts at Radio City Music Hall on May 14, 2007 in New York City. | Evan Agostini/Getty Images

As both a lead actor in the series and its creator, the show couldn’t very well go on without Tina Fey. Fey was already the mother to daughter Alice Zenobia Richmond, born in 2005. She gave birth to her second daughter, Penelope Athena Richmond, in 2011. This second child’s birth coincided with the filming of 30 Rock. The show delayed filming to allow Fey time to recover from giving birth before returning to the set. 

She came back when her daughter was just eight weeks old. But she admits that it may have been “too soon.” As People reports, Fey felt like she was not at her best, as she told David Letterman. “I look like maybe I should still be in the hospital,” she said of watching herself on the show. “Just a little inflamed and kind of swollen.” She also notes that she was nursing so viewers can “watch my boobs change size every scene.” 

Jane Krakowski’s pregnancy had to be hidden the same year

When the news broke that Jane Krakowski was pregnant, fans may have been curious about how that would play into the show. For a goofy comedy, there are plenty of ways 30 Rock could have played a Jenna pregnancy.

However, as EW reported at the time, the producers (including Fey) decided not to write the pregnancy into the show’s plot. “At this time, we plan to shoot around Jane’s pregnancy, because no child should have Jenna Maroney for a mother,” the official statement quipped. 

The decision led to some creative moves on the set. According to MsMojo, Krakowski’s growing belly was disguised through wardrobe choices (like a giant dog costume) and clever camera angles. 

After 30 Rock ended, Fey created The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Netflix series starred Ellie Kemper as the title character, a woman who, after spending 15 years trapped in a bunker, tries to live a normal life in New York City after her rescue. 

When Kemper’s pregnancy became apparent, the writers delayed production to allow her time to give birth and recover before filming season 3, as Cinema Blend reported at the time. Never one to miss an opportunity, Fey used the delay to work on Mean Girls: The Musical

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ran from 2015 to 2019 before wrapping up with an interactive special. Kemper’s first son, James, was born in 2016 and was the cause of the season 3 delay. Her second son, Matthew, was born in 2019.

All told, Fey — who has been an outspoken proponent of women in comedy — seems to be working hard to create spaces where motherhood and acting can go hand-in-hand. 

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