Jane Krakowski (Getty Images)
I’ve just confessed perhaps one of the dorkiest things about me to Jane Krakowski; she is laughing.
Jane Krakowski’s laugh is familiar to millions of television watchers worldwide. But this laugh is nothing like the maniacal howl of Jenna Maroney, the head diva in charge of 30 Rock’s fictional TGS With Tracy Jordan, nor is it anything like the desperate wail of Jacqueline Voorhees, the Upper East Side stepmonster she currently plays on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This laugh is all Jane Krakowski. Warm, friendly, intimate.
I’ve told Krakowski about an annual tradition I share with my sister, wherein the two of us perform the Dixie Chicks’s “Goodbye Earl” on karaoke while the song’s music video, which stars Krakowski as the titular Earl’s abused spouse, plays behind us. “I love it,” she says, but she has a suggestion:
“This year, I don’t know if you can get the videos… I don’t know who would be appropriate to do ‘Muffin Top’ and then the other one could do ‘Peeno Noir.'”
Fans of one of the most fruitful collaborations on television — Krakowski, Tina Fey, and Robert Carlock — will instantly recognize these as the most famous songs from, respectively, 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, both created by Fey and Carlock and starring Krakowski.
Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski in June (Getty Images)
She’s not unaware of the lightning that has struck twice.
“We’re about to start filming our ninth season of television together and [Tina]’s given me these roles where I will never be asked to do what she has given me anywhere else,” she notes. “And I’m so thankful for that every day, not only for the great characters but for the joy I get going to work every single day with her and with her great creative group.”
Krakowski has had a pretty steady television presence since she signed on as Elaine Vassal in Ally McBeal in 1997, but a lot has changed since then: She won a Tony in 2003 for her role in Nine and in 2011 she had a son, Bennett. Today, we’re at an event for Pampers. She’s helping them launch a nationwide tour in which they’ll donate more than a million diapers to families in need across six cities.
Jane Krakowski poses with children at the Pampers event (AP Photo)
“We are fully potty trained, I’m proud to say,” she jokes of Bennett, who turned 4 in April. “It would be an awkward moment…”
In recent years, female celebrities, particularly mothers, have begun to push back against the typical questions they’re asked about work/life balance, questions never posed to their male peers which expose the deeply ingrained sexism in the entertainment industry. Krakowski says that she’s heard her fair share.
“I do get a lot of those questions, questions that nobody will ever have the answer to right?” she says. “It’s a day-to-day basis, that’s how we do it. If anybody has the answer they could sell it for billions, of how you balance all that. And then we’d have no stories, we’d have no TV shows. Every show, they’re all about that, right? What would we do if we knew the answer?”
So maybe no one knows the end game, but for Krakowski, the ride is exhilarating enough.
“Every once in a while I’ll just take a moment and say thank you to Tina and, I don’t want to get emotional,” her voice breaks, the emotion clear in her eyes. “Because we don’t say thank you to people enough. There was a moment we had on set in the middle of season one of Kimmy; we had a new director [who] was noting the ease and the chemistry of our working relationship. And I said, ‘Yeah, Tina’s the best.’ I wasn’t even looking at Tina, I was looking at the director and I said, ‘Tina has given me the best roles I will ever have in this business.’ And I sort of had never said that out loud.”