Tina Fey Warned Bowen Yang About Sharing Real Opinions

‘Authenticity is dangerous and expensive’
Tina Fey Warned Bowen Yang About Sharing Real Opinions

Keep it to yourself. 

Though she didn’t say it in so many words, that was Tina Fey’s advice to Bowen Yang when she appeared on his podcast Las Culturistas. “She — in a very playful, so brilliant way — was railing against me for sharing my real opinions on movies on the podcast and just my real opinions in general,” Yang said on NPR’s Wild Card podcast

In short, Fey was warning him that offhand remarks have a way of becoming part of one’s social history, thanks to the wonders of podcast technology. “The internet,” said Yang, “is written in permanent marker.” 

Yang was getting too famous to share every opinion that entered his head, Fey jokingly warned. What if the director of Saltburn wants to hire him for an upcoming project, only to kill the idea after hearing his online disrespect? Being brutally honest is a luxury few careers can afford.

The sentiment was summed up in one line from Fey’s appearance that “kind of went a little viral,” Yang said. The nugget that caught the internet’s interest? “Authenticity is dangerous and expensive.”

Yang explained to NPR that he’s still reckoning with that truth. “I've always been an open book,” he confessed. “I've always shared my thoughts pretty extemporaneously on things and haven’t really regretted them too much. But now I think I’m reevaluating what it means. How worth it is it to be honest about everything?”

That said, discretion seems wise, but it has its own costs, too. After all, Yang maintained, “if you start to self-censor a bit, then what does that do to your idea of yourself?” 

It’s a problem familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the public eye. “The idea that people are listening or watching is so overwhelming if I think about it for too long,” he explained. “And isn’t that ironic? Because I feel like with media, that’s the whole point. The whole point is for it to be disseminated, it’s for it to be distributed widely and literally broadcast. But there’s something a little paralyzing about that.”

One thing that Yang kept to himself? At least initially, it was the news that Lorne Michaels was moving him into the main cast of Saturday Night Live. Before the announcement went public, Yang said, “I knew that I had to get up super early that morning, just for myself.”

The comic got up at the crack of dawn for a long walk to Prospect Park in Brooklyn where he watched the sunrise. His advice to himself: “Don’t listen to music, just hear the sounds of the world around you and take this in. Take this last moment in before you go down this crazy chute, where you will likely have very little control over what happens from this point forward. This is your last moment to yourself. I knew for whatever reason that that was going to be a moment that I had to really claim before things were out there and before people could make evaluations on you. This is for you.”

Tina Fey would have been proud.


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