When Ellie Kemper was starring in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in 2016, her whole world was altered when she gave birth to her first child, James Miller.
“All your priorities change in an instant,” said Kemper, who also has a 6-month-old baby, Matthew.
“Things where I would have been sheepish about standing up, in terms of protecting my own time, suddenly became non-negotiable because it was an issue of feeding my baby, getting home to see my baby and that was knowing my value,” said Kemper.
The 39-year-old actress recounted a moment when she was filming “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and had been away from her son for most of the day.
“I was supposed to do a scene with Jon Hamm, and he said, ‘Your lines are off camera, go home to your baby right now,” Kemper recalled. “But it was that moment of knowing that I brought it to the floor, and I felt like I need to do this right now. Also, bless that man, bless that Hamm,” she said, laughing.
Becoming a mom quickly made Kemper take stock of her personal health as well, which she said is one of the reasons she recently partnered withTom’s of Maine for the launch of their prebiotic personal care products.
And while she is wearing two hats, both as an actress and a mom, Kemper, said working long hours before kids while on “The Office” and “Bridesmaids” taught her that one of the best things you can do for the morale of your staff is to maintain a positive demeanor. That’s one of the reasons why Kemper said she tries to be so upbeat.
“From being the lead on a show I learned, and I hope that I already knew this, but to always be prepared and also not to complain,” said Kemper. “From Ms. Tina Fey herself — talk about not complaining — I’ve never heard her complain about anything. She knows every crew member’s name, she works closely with the crew, she’s very present on all of her projects, she is all about the work.”
Kemper describes feeling similarly about Fey and Steve Carrell, both of whom had two young children while they were working on their shows. “I would see Steve Carrell going back to his trailer and I would think, ‘He must be really tired,’” said Kemper. “I vaguely knew that he had two kids at home, and he was working these long hours.”
Kemper also shared her best advice to up-and-coming comics: create your own content.
“When I started, YouTube felt like a new thing, College Humor felt new — so I would always tell younger people to create their own content and to make their own breaks,” said Kemper. “That way you’re in charge of what you’re creating. The more control you have the better.”