Regina Marie "Jenna" Fischer (born March 7, 1974)[1] is an American actress and director. She is known for her Emmy-nominated[2] portrayal of Pam Halpert (née Beesly) on the NBC situation comedy The Office. She has also appeared in several films, including Blades of GloryWalk Hard: The Dewey Cox StoryThe Promotion, andHall Pass.


 [hide*1 Early life

Early life[edit]Edit

Fischer was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States, and was raised in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Anne (née Miller), is a history teacher, and her father, James E. "Jim" Fischer, is a plastics engineer.[3][better source needed] Fischer has one younger sister, Emily, a third grade teacher.[4] Fischer first performed at the age of six, when she participated in an acting workshop taught by her mother at Henry School in St. Louis, a workshop also attended by actor Sean Gunn, with whom she grew up.[5]

Fischer attended Pierremont Elementary School in Manchester, Missouri, and Nerinx Hall High School, a private all-girls Catholic school, in Webster Groves, Missouri.[3][better source needed] She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre, as well as a minor in journalism, from Truman State University, where she originally enrolled as a pre-law history major.[6]


Career development[edit]Edit

Fischer first began her career working in professional theatre. While attending college in Missouri, she performed with a touring Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre group[7] and, upon her move to Los Angeles, began performing Commedia dell'arte with the Zoo District Theatre. Her performance in the company's musical adaptation of the film Nosferatu led to her first agent.[8] However, she struggled to break into film and television, telling NPR that her first paying film job was a "sex education video for [psychiatric] patients upon their release from UCLA Medical Center".[9] In a Myspace blog written specifically to advise actors beginning their own career,[10] she explained that it took three years before landing her first televised speaking role, a part on Spin City.[10]

She continued to spend the next few years of her career appearing in bit parts in small indie films, such as Employee of the MonthLucky 13, and The Specials, as well as guest spots on the television shows Six Feet UnderThat '70s ShowCold CaseMiss MatchStrong MedicineUndeclaredWhat I Like About You, and Off Centre.

Fischer appeared in friend Peter Alton's 2002 short subject film Les Superficiales. Fischer met Alton at the Zoo District Theatre group, and he later co-wrote and narrated her self-produced film, Lollilove.[11] In 2003, she held a starring role in The Girl's Guide to Summer, a 2003 Instant Films short (a competition similar to the nationally held 48 Hour Film Project, only based in Los Angeles) directed by Instant Film's co-founder (and camera operator) Charles Papert.[12]

[1][2]Fischer in March 2009, at the Inside the Office panel discussion at theAcademy of Television Arts & Sciences===Lollilove[edit]===

While her film career was slowly taking off, Fischer took matters into her own hands, writing, directing and starring in her own mockumentaryLolliLove. The film co-starred her now ex-husband James Gunn, as well as friends Linda CardelliniJudy GreerLloyd Kaufman and Jason Segel. "I wasn't working much, getting little guest-star roles months away from each other," Fischer explained in 2006. She began participating in The Artist's Way, a self-led creativity seminar in book form. "From doing that book I got this idea... When we started it, it wasn’t even supposed to be a real movie. It was just going to be an improv project for James and I to amuse ourselves with."[13] Utilizing a camera she gave Gunn as a wedding present, she filmed preliminary improvisational interviews with her friends in the faux documentary format that would later bring her fame on The Office. "I really feel it was divine intervention that I chose to work in this medium for a year," she said in an interview. "It was the best practice I could have ever gotten for the possibility of being on the show."[14]

Lollilove premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival, the hometown of Fischer and Gunn, in November 2004, and was also shown at the TromaDance Film Festival. For her role in the film, Fischer was awarded a Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award.[15] Despite the film's contribution to her career, she admitted to a St. Louis arts and entertainment magazine[16] that the experience dissuaded her from any future directing:

The directing was exhausting and the writing was painful. It was very difficult to direct and star in a movie. We also had a very small crew so I did a lot of things a normal director doesn’t have to do, like make the props and serve lunch. I was simultaneously getting into character, going over my lines, set dressing the next shot, coaching an actor, and brainstorming with my DP [cinematographer]. I’m good at multitasking, but that was too much for me. I couldn’t enjoy any one part the way I would have liked. I think I’ll stick to acting.

The Office and feature films[edit]Edit

In 2005, after a succession of mostly improvised auditions similar to her Lollilove experience, Fischer landed the role of Pam Beesly on what would become the NBC hit, The Office, based on the original BBC series. Before her initial audition, casting director Allison Jones advised Fischer, "Dare to bore me."[17] Fischer herself spent several years working as a receptionist and administrative assistant in Los Angeles offices, much like her television counterpart, while struggling to achieve success, and thus felt she was well-suited to the role.[3][better source needed] "I'm so attached to Pam's journey," she told NPR in 2009. "I just love playing this character so, so much."[17] She received a Primetime Emmy Award[18] nomination in 2007.

Soon after The Office premiered, Fischer was focused on the show's success; in an April 2005 interview with her alma mater's student newspaper, she said: "Honestly it would be great to get to play Pam for a long, long time .... I don't have real big aspirations to be a movie star. I would love to be on a long-running hit TV show. You end up playing a defining role."[6] As The Office grew into a success, Fischer's film acting career became more established. In 2006, she co-starred in her then-husband's film, Slither, and in 2007, she filmed supporting roles in The Brothers Solomon, with Will Arnett and Will ForteBlades of Glory, with Will Ferrell,John Heder, and Amy Poehler, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, alongside John C. Reilly, with whom she co-starred again in 2008's The Promotion, also starring Seann William Scott.

In 2009, Fischer completed filming on the movies Solitary Man, and the indie A Little Help, which opened in the summer of 2010 at the Seattle International Film Festival. Also that summer, she completed filming on theFarrelly Brothers comedy Hall Pass, which was released in February 2011.

Other work[edit]Edit

Fischer appeared on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2006, participating in the show's eighth tournament, shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, and playing for Catholic Charities' Tsunami Relief.

In 2007 Fischer starred in the music video for Willie Wisely's single "Through Any Window", directed by longtime friend John Cabrera; the opportunity arose because she knew Wisely from work he had done on soundtracks for LolliLove and Tromeo and Juliet, one of her husband's films.[19]

In December of the same year, during the Hollywood writer's strike, Fischer appeared at Sacred Fools Theater Company in episode 25 of Darque Magick, a serialized play written and directed by Jenelle Riley.[20]

In July 2009, Fischer played left field for the National League team in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game as part of the MLB All-Star Week festivities, held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up.[citation needed]

In March 2010, Fischer returned to the area to co-chair an annual auction for Nerinx Hall High School, her alma mater. At the event, she auctioned off a set visit to The Office and multiple autographed props from the show.[21]

Fischer was named an official spokeswoman for Proactiv Skincare Solutions in 2009[22] and was announced as the voice behind the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Grilled Cheese Academy website[23] in 2010.

Fischer was named as producer of the mid-August through October 2010 run of the critically acclaimed play Sad Happy Sucker, written by her husband Lee Kirk and directed by friend Sean Gunn. The play previously ran as a theatre workshop in February and March 2007.[24]

After finishing The Office, Fischer starred in the Off-Broadway play Reasons to Be Happy, written and directed by Neil LaBute, which ran from May to June 2013.

Personal life[edit]Edit

[3][4]Fischer in May 2008

Fischer met screenwriter James Gunn, her first husband, after she graduated from Truman State and moved to Los Angeles; her childhood friend Sean Gunn, James' brother, introduced them after he helped her get a part in a showcase.[6] That small part in a showcase also led to her getting her first manager.[6] On October 7, 2000, Fischer married James Gunn.[25] Fischer announced her separation from Gunn in September 2007.[26] In a June 2008 radio interview during the publicity tour of The Promotion, she confirmed that the divorce from Gunn had been finalized.[27]

In the summer of 2009, People magazine reported her engagement to screenwriter Lee Kirk.[28] Fischer confirmed this publicly on her MySpace page.[29] The couple married on July 3, 2010.[30][31] On September 24, 2011, Fischer gave birth to a son, Weston Lee Kirk.[32][33] On February 25, 2014, the couple announced their second child was on the way. [34]

Fischer is passionate about animal rescue, and she is involved with the Los Angeles organizations Kitten Rescue and Rescue Rover.[35] Before The Office, she worked for three years doing hands-on rescue work for the organizations.[36] She still regularly fosters cats and has hosted Kitten Rescue's annual silent auction three years in a row (in 2008, 2009, and 2010).[37]



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Channel 493 Rane
1998 Born Champion Wendy Miller
2002 Les superficiales Bitchy French girl Short film
2003 Doggie Tales, Vol. 1: Lucky's First Sleepover Kelsey (voice) Video
2004 Employee of the Month Whisper
2004 The Women Leslie Short film
2004 LolliLove Jenna Gunn
2006 Slither Shelby
2007 Blades of Glory Katie Van Waldenberg
2007 The Brothers Solomon Michelle
2007 Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Darlene Madison
2008 The Promotion Jen Stauber
2009 Solitary Man Susan Porter
2010 A Little Help Laura Pehlke
2011 Hall Pass Maggie
2012 The Giant Mechanical Man Janice
2013 You Are Here Alli
2014 Kiss Me Vera
2014 It's Okay Her Short film


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Undeclared Betty Episode: "Sick in the Head"
2002 Off Centre Melanie Episode: "The Backup"
2002 What I Like About You Kim Episode: "Copy That"
2003 Strong Medicine Camille Freemont Episode: "Maternal Mirrors"
2003 Miss Match Connie Episode: "Kate in Ex-tasy"
2004 Cold Case Dottie (in 1943) Episode: "Factory Girls"
2005 That '70s Show Stacy Wanamaker Episode: "Don't Lie to Me"
2005 Six Feet Under Sharon Kinney Episodes: "A Coat of White Primer", "Dancing for Me"
2005–13 The Office Pam Beesly-Halpert Main role (187 episodes)
2012 Dan Vs. Anger Management Instructor (voice) Episode: "Dan Vs. Anger Management"

Awards and nominations[edit]Edit

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2004 LolliLove St. Louis International Film Festival Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award Won
2005 TromaDance Film Festival Independent Soul Award (as director) Won
2007 The Office Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2008 Won
Golden Nymph Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2009 Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV: Comedy Actress Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2010 Nominated
Golden Nymph Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Herself Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award Outstanding Achievement in Film Won
2011 The Office Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
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