One of the busiest moms in Hollywood is also one of the funniest. Amy Poehler hit the big time when she quickly excelled on Saturday Night Live. After signing off “Weekend Update” for the last time, Poehler transitioned into the lead role of Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation – on top of her acting in movies. Fans will know her as the “cool mom” from Mean Girls. And did you recognize her voice as Joy in Pixar’s 2015 film Inside Out? Poehler and Tina Fey’s banter is so perfect that the two seemingly host the Emmys every year.
While off the screen, this actor found even more ways to excel, such as publishing her memoir, Yes Please. And in 2021, she released her “second film as a director” called Moxie, per Independent. As far as her personal life, Poehler used to be married to comedian Will Arnett. The couple shares two boys, even though the relationship failed. And this isn’t the only hardship that Poehler encountered throughout her career. Plus, you might be surprised to find out what she’s really like in real life.
What’s your favorite role by the actor? It’s time to go behind that charming smile and learn what most people don’t know about Amy Poehler.
The hidden side of Amy Poehler
With her bubbly personality and hilarious banter on-screen, one could assume Amy Poehler is the same in real life. While her friends may agree, the actor herself admitted a bit of a discrepancy. Poehler explained to The Guardian that she considered herself “blue-collar” in the way she acts. And that she may not be as nice as some people make her out to be. “When I yell … I feel like I am fully alive,” she confessed. The actor told the interviewer the joy she gets from getting angry, especially as a woman. “It’s super-exciting to not care if you’re liked, and to watch someone’s face as they realize that,” she said. And Poehler added that “it’s a nice secret weapon” to surprise people with a tough attitude.
Poehler detailed a time on the way to film Mean Girls, when she and Fey talked on the flight the entire time. At the end of the trip, when a passenger said the two women were annoying, Poehler “looked at his boring, rich-guy face” and shouted, “F*** you! Who do you think you are? You’re no better than me!” She explained part of what set her off on the man is her aversion to “assumed entitlement and privilege.”
Roles you may have missed by Amy Poehler
Prior to becoming a breakout star on Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler appeared in various small roles in the entertainment industry. She and other future celebrities, including late-night host Stephen Colbert and Zach Galifianakis, were on the MTV comedy series Apt. 2F. The show “didn’t last long” but helped provide them “early exposure,” according to Rolling Stone.
One of Poehler’s most well-known skits was a recurring character on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in the late ’90s. Poehler appeared in the audience as the little sister of O’Brien’s sidekick Andy Richter. She pretended to have a crush on the late-night host and the house band’s drummer, Max Weinberg.
Years later, the star almost went from audience member to host. After Jon Stewart left his longtime role as host of The Daily Show, Comedy Central was in desperate need of a replacement. According to The New York Times, the “network made a call” to Poehler “to gauge her interest.” Allegedly, the network was “pretty much expecting her to say no, and it was the quickest no in history.”
Live from New York, it's Amy Poehler
In 2001, Amy Poehler landed in the dream role for an improv comic. She started as a new cast member on Saturday Night Live, alongside an incredible cast of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon. Tragically, she started working “right before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show fortunately continued and Poehler immediately started to shine. “By midseason she was promoted from featured player to part of the repertory cast, only the second time in the show’s history this had happened. The other person to make this transition so rapidly was Eddie Murphy,” Vulture detailed.
Her friend from Chicago, Fey, remembered that Poehler’s attitude helped make her a force to be reckoned with on set. “Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute” and to only “play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes,” Fey explained in her memoir Bossypants. “She was there to do what she wanted to do,” Fey added.
Along with Poehler’s audacity was also her ability to make friends with the cast and hosts. Meyers told The Hollywood Reporter that she would always welcome the hosts, even though that wasn’t her “assigned” role. “But Amy took it upon herself to make it a good environment, not just for the people who work there, but for the people who just spent a week there,” he said.
The Parks and Rec experience
In perhaps her most iconic role, Amy Poehler played Leslie Knope in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. The show was originally supposed to be a spin-off of The Office until show writers decided to build the series around Poehler. Poehler admitted that she loved her time working on the show — both as a producer and the lead actor. “If I could have laid in bed and thought of a job, this would be it,” Poehler told the Los Angeles Times. “I get to say funny lines with the best cast in television saying different funny lines back at me,” the actor explained.
Poehler’s castmates were equally inspired by her dedication to the show. Co-star Nick Offerman, who played the manly Ron Swanson, remembered a particular evening with her. He explained how Poehler was “three months pregnant at the end of 19 weeks of shooting” and still found a way to cheer up the cast. Even late at night, she could “improvise an extemporaneous rap about the crew and go around punching people. She’s the head cheerleader and the quarterback of the team at the same time,” he added.
Long after the show ended, Poehler started watching the series again. But his time, with her two boys. But she admitted on Late Night with Seth Meyers that she forgets the character arc. “I remember shooting the scenes” she said but as far as the story, “it’s one long blur.”
The funny side of Amy Poehler
As a young girl, Amy Poehler discovered what it was like to make people laugh. When she was 10 years old, Poehler played Dorothy in her school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. As recounted by The Guardian, “she realized she could make the audience laugh by improvising with the dog playing Toto.” This planted the seed for Poehler’s career in comedy. She moved to Chicago after graduating to study improv. While there, she met her future bestie Tina Fey. “Poehler made a living from waitressing and odd jobs, like being a lighting stand-in for Gina Gershon in 1996’s Bound,” according to People. Poehler remembered of the experience, “I got a hundred bucks for that!” She then relocated to New York and started the comedy improv group, the Upright Citizens Brigade, via The New York Times.
After founding the UCB, Poehler stayed active with the company. Even after joining SNL, Poehler performed at the theater in New York most Sunday evenings, People reported. Plus, she and a few members also created a TV series called Upright Citizens Brigade. The show lasted for three seasons on Comedy Central. It starred Poehler and also featured Matt Walsh before his big-time role on Veep.
The giving side of Amy Poehler
Comedy isn’t the only way Amy Poehler puts smiles on people’s faces. She also is incredibly generous with her time and money. For example, she founded the Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls network with producer Meredith Walker. According to the website, the group is “dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves. We emphasize intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.'” And the actor used her comedic skills to create intro clips for the site. Besides just funny clips, she also created videos to talk about more serious issues facing women including body positivity.
Poehler is also altruistic in donating to worthy causes. She once hosted a party after the Emmys with her friend Jon Hamm. But the occasion was to celebrate all the nominees who lost instead of taking home the big prizes of the night. As Hamm explained on Late Night with Seth Meyers, winners were allowed to come but with a fee at the door. Hamm detailed that to get into the “Losers’ Lounge,” winners needed to check their trophies at the door and write a check to the charity of his and Poehler’s choice. Among the winners who were in the giving and partying spirit were Tina Fey and reportedly Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
In 2020, Poehler joined the rest of the Parks and Recreation cast for another charitable cause. The crew raised a total of $3.5 million “for the food bank charity Feeding America,” Daily Mail reported.
Amy Poehler's wicked cool upbringing
Amy Poehler grew up in Burlington, Mass. Poehler, her younger brother Greg, and her parents all lived together. Both Poehler’s parents were teachers but she didn’t just learn the book smarts from her family. Poehler credits her father with also giving her “street smarts,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. She also explained that her dad didn’t treat her any differently because she was a girl. In fact, he would sometimes encourage her to break “social protocol.” The actor remembered he would ask her things like, “Do you think you could go steal that guy’s wallet?”
Growing up in a small town meant that Poehler was used to a simpler life. She revealed that her “grandfather was a firefighter” while other common town careers were nurses and teachers — much less glamorous folks than in Hollywood. “They all can’t believe the life I’m living,” Poehler confessed. But you can’t take the city out of the woman. She revealed that her Boston accent occasionally comes out. “I found out I had an accent when I went to [Boston College], which is not full of people from Boston,” she remembered. “Every once in a while, it still comes out when I’m yelling or fighting,” Poehler said.
Amy Poehler is a proud feminist
In addition to her outstanding on-screen talent, Amy Poehler is working hard once the camera stops rolling. She is continually pushing for women’s rights and respect in the modern age. “I think the world is becoming more feminine,” she told The Guardian. “I do think the market now demands an alternative to the old white male experience,” she added. And she uses many different avenues to help make a positive change for women. Like co-hosting the Emmy awards and making jokes “about Hollywood sexism.” Or creating works with positive messages, like her directorial debut Moxie. The movie centers around a teenage girl who starts “a feminist revolution at her suburban high school,” The Hollywood Reporter recapped.
Her close friend Tina Fey explained what makes Poehler so special in her mission. “Amy is taking the work of the women of early SNL — Gilda Radner, Jan Hooks — to the next natural progression of being proactively, actively feminist in her work,” she said. Poehler explained how she indeed looks at other female comedians who paved the way before her and continue to star in comedy, like Catherine O’Hara from Schitt’s Creek. She told The Boston Globe that she respected how savvy O’Hara and Radner were. Poehler explained to The Guardian that she likened life to “being attacked by a bear. You can run, you can pretend to be dead or you can make yourself bigger.” Poehler clearly keeps getting bigger.
Amy Poehler revealed her parenting struggles
Amy Poehler is the proud mother of two sons. And as the boys grew older, she discovered the three of them all enjoyed The Simpsons. Using her kids as a “small focus group of two,” Poehler created the animated series Duncanville to provide a similar experience for other families, per USA Today. But as heartwarming as these bonding stories are, Poehler faced many difficulties as a soon-to-be mom.
As Poehler prepared to become a new mother, tragedy struck. Her OB-GYN died the day before the actor gave birth. “I was in a real panic and I was so pregnant,” she remembered in an interview with NPR. She was still hanging around the SNL offices and remembered sobbing around the host for the week, Jon Hamm. “I think going from laughing to crying to laughing to crying — making those quick turns adds years to your life,” Poehler said.
Then when her newborn was only a few months old, the celeb had to leave home. Poehler flew out to Los Angeles to begin filming the first season of Parks and Recreation. She explained how difficult it was to balance a passion for wanting to work, while also missing her newborn. The actor revealed “it was a very difficult time. It was harder than I think I wanted to admit at the time.” She added, “I think I tortured myself a bit in that first year about what kind of mother I was.”
Amy Poehler's other specialty
Like many others before her, Amy Poehler’s comedic training didn’t just help improve her acting chops. Her experience in improv also means knowing how to write and create meaningful storylines. Outside of her acting credits, Poehler is also a prolific producer. One of her best-known shows was Broad City. Poehler discovered the two leads of the series, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, “from their time at the UCB theater,” Vulture reported. The show, based on a web series, was originally supposed to air on FX. But ultimately, Jacobson, Glazer, and Poehler ended up on Comedy Central.
Poehler also produced the Netflix time-travel series Russian Doll starring Natasha Lyonne. As the lead actor told the Los Angeles Times, Poehler called her “out of the blue” to pitch the idea for the series. “So as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always been the oldest girl in the world,” Poehler reportedly told Lyonne over the phone. And according to the actor, Poehler said, “I think we should make a show about that. What do you say?”
While the show Welcome to Sweden only lasted two seasons, she produced the show starring her younger brother Greg. The show was inspired by when he actually moved to Sweden for love, via IndieWire. Poehler also runs her own production company out of Hollywood, one which is “is staffed exclusively by women,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Amy is a natural leader,” Tina Fey said about Poehler’s gift in the entertainment industry.
The Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler connection
When the two shared the stage on Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler always knew how to make the crowd smile. The actors became well-known for their “Really!?! with Seth and Amy” segment on the sketch comedy series. And the two amazingly met before their time on SNL together. Even more surprising is that Poehler didn’t remember meeting Meyers. When she appeared as the guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host recalled their first interaction. He was an audience member during a comedy improv performance by Poehler and Tina Fey in Chicago. During one portion, the ladies called up a member of the audience to participate — and it was Meyers. But when he told her about the memory years at the SNL offices, Poehler had no recollection of ever meeting him. “You made no impression on me,” Poehler joked about the event.
The two stayed friends but the joking and fun times never stopped. One time, Poehler and Meyers went to dinner together but accidentally switched credit cards. When she realized the mistake, Poehler said she “had some fun with it. I took my family to San Francisco for the weekend,” she once quipped at an event (via Vulture). And before giving the card back, she used it to make a $5000 charitable donation in her name. Meyers approved of the transaction and got his card back. “You don’t want to be in a blood feud with Amy Poehler,” he said.
How much is Amy Poehler worth?
During her long run in comedy, Amy Poehler has used her talents on many different platforms. She starred in Parks and Recreation in addition to a long run on Saturday Night Live. But she also helped kickstart other comedians’ careers by helping found the Upright Citizens Brigade. This on top of her role in films, her successful producer credits, and her work as a published author. Her payments for all these projects are no laughing matter, either. As of 2021, Poehler was worth an estimated $25 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
With her considerable net worth, Poehler has spent part of it on luxurious properties. Like when she bought “two condo units in New York City’s West Village” for a reported $6.49 million. Even better, she purchased the units from her ex-husband Will Arnett. Before he and Poehler split, the two bought the properties for “a total of $8 million” and combined the units.
Poehler also likely used some of that money to get a new Mercedes Benz. But even the luxury car couldn’t stop her from a simple mistake. Daily Mail reported that Poehler found herself locked out of her car after a hair appointment. The actor found valet assistance and was luckily able to drive away.
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