'The Office': Jenna Fischer Said This 'Office' Co-Star 'Changed My Life'
The Office star Jenna Fischer had suffered so many rejections early in her acting career that she was ready to leave it all behind and pursue something else. Fischer credits one of her The Office co-stars for being a cheerleader for her along the way, explaining during the Office Ladies podcast how the person “changed my life.”
Jenna Fischer almost quit acting
After years of rejection, Fischer considered quitting acting for good. During the Feb. 16 episode of The Office Deep Dive With Brian Baumgartner, Fischer shared how she wanted to move on from the entertainment business and become a vet technician.
Her manager and acting coach convinced her to give auditioning another year and it paid off. “And that was the year that I got the audition for Pam on The Office,” Fischer explained.
She credited her lack of acting roles as one of the reasons why she got her “big break.”
They were looking to cast “unknown actors only” and since she struggled for so long to make it, she said she fit the bill.
“I was this unknown actor and I had absolutely nothing to offer,” the actor noted. “I had no name recognition so I couldn’t get these big lead parts until The Office, when finally, the thing that had been working against me was my gift — which was that I was unknown.”
Fischer would sometimes audition with her future ‘The Office’ co-star
While Fischer was by no means an overnight success, her persistence paid off and she shared how one of her The Office co-stars played a part. Phyllis Smith worked as a casting associate before landing the gig on The Office and part of her job was reading lines with actors.
During a May 3 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Fischer and co-host Angela Kinsey discussed how they finally got their break on The Office. Fischer shared that she read with Smith for her audition but it wasn’t the first time she had done so with the casting associate.
“She was the casting associate at [casting director] Allison Jones’ office. She was not an actress,” Fischer explained. “The way Phyllis got her job on The Office was they were so impressed with how she read with all of us that they gave her a role.”
“I had been auditioning for various shows and roles that Allison Jones had been casting and I had been reading with Phyllis for over five years before getting my audition for The Office,” Fischer shared.
She continued, “I had been in Los Angeles knocking around for those eight years of my ‘overnight success’ and over those eight years, I watched a lot of people throw in the towel and be kind of like, ‘Forget it. I’m not doing this anymore.’”
Jenna Fischer explained how Phyllis Smith was a big part of her success
Fischer went on to explain how she would get close to quitting but something positive would happen to keep her in the acting game. “Every year, some little thing would happen that would give me hope,” she said. “Like, year five, I got my first speaking role on a TV show — it was Spin City, the Charlie Sheen years. It was cast by Allison Jones and I read with Phyllis. It was just three lines and when I got the role, I thanked Allison. I told her ‘Oh my gosh, I was really starting to lose hope. I was so happy to get this break.’”
“And you know what she said to me? She said, ‘The person you should thank is Phyllis. She put your audition at the top of the pile for the producers and she flagged you as our top choice,’” Fischer recalled.
The actor shared that Smith was part of the reason why she kept trying. “So Phyllis is one of the reasons that I had hope to stick around in Los Angeles long enough to audition with her three years later for The Office,” she shared.
“She changed my life,” Fischer added. “Sometimes I think it just takes that one person who believes in you, you know?”
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