I’m going to say a few words and I want you to tell me if it triggers a certain TV show theme song in your head. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Dunder Mifflin. That’s What She Said. Pam Beesly. Did it work? Are you bopping your head back and forth to the tune of The Office theme song?
You guys, I am so excited to host this incredible, iconic, and much-loved guest. She is a mom, a podcaster, and an author, but perhaps you know her best from her role of Pam Beesly on The Office. Jenna Fischer entered our homes as the receptionist at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and became half of one of the most-loved TV couples of our generation.
Jenna’s time playing Pam Beesly led to much more than her iconic TV character status, though. She and her best friend, Angela Kinsey, who played Angela Martin on The Office, launched The Office Ladies podcast together in fall of 2021. Together, they rewatch the series episode by episode and share all the behind the scenes magic that fans of the show love to hear. And now, that behind the scenes magic is coming to book form, too, with their first book together The Office BFFs.
I am so thrilled to share a mic with Jenna Fischer and ask about what it was like to be part of a show with such massive success, what she loved about being Pam Beesly, how she navigated the new medium of podcasting, and how she balances her personal and professional relationship working with her BFF.
Working with Her Best Friend
Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey became best friends while working together on The Office. They were together all the time, and bonded over their shared work and experiences coming up on a popular show. After The Office ended, their careers and personal lives sent them in different directions, and they missed that closeness. Angela and Jenna wanted to find a way to work together again, but more than that, they wanted to find a way to work for themselves.
For Jenna, starting a podcast “was like a life altering idea because we could be our own bosses.” Jenna continued, “We could create the content, so there was the creative aspect, but I have a real entrepreneurial side of me…When we got into the podcasting business, I got to be the person who figures out how do you monetize a podcast? What is a download worth? How do you build downloads? That really scratched that itch for me.”
As moms and just as humans wanting more autonomy over their own schedules, podcasting also was a great fit, “We also got to be the architects of our own time, which was a big goal of ours,” Jenna explained. “The entertainment industry is notorious for having very long hours and you have to turn your life over to it.”
“We just would talk about this and we spent years strategizing. Was it possible to manifest a job that paid the bills, that ticked all these boxes, that involved the two of us being in business together? And eventually it turned into the podcast Office Ladies that we now do every week.”
Writing Office BFFs
The Office Ladies led to a new creative endeavor for Jenna and Angela, too. Together, they wrote Office BFFs, a scrapbook-style book about their time on The Office. She explained the backstory, saying, “That really started because we did a big clean out of our garages and we found a bunch of photos and memorabilia and we didn’t know what to do with it. And we thought, well, that’s a book.”
Combing back through that decade of their lives was a special experience, “We uncovered thousands of photos that we had taken. In fact, I think we’re the only people who brought our cameras to the pilot of The Office and we put those photos in the book. I think the on-set pictures from the pilot are the ones that we took.”
For Jenna, it was a chance to reflect, “It was such a special thing to look back and reflect on the whole journey. The Office was my big break. It is what gave me the agency to be where I am now. I think that the overwhelming feeling was just gratitude and going over all those things and looking back and seeing how far we’ve come.”
Lessons from Pam
I asked Jenna what advice she has for someone that finds themselves in a place where Pam did, trying to establish who she is and what she stands for and what she wants out of life.
Jenna responded, “I think the first thing I would say is that it’s really normal to not know. I spent a lot of years in various odd jobs, wishing that I had something else, something different, something where I was more expressed and it took me a long time to really name what I wanted.”
She continued, “And so I would say sitting in that discomfort, sitting in that dissatisfaction and then trying to turn that into things you want. It’s really easy to say what you don’t want… But what do you want? Because you can’t see it when it appears, unless you knew you wanted it.”
More from This Episode
What did Jenna Fischer learn about the podcasting business and how much of the process is she involved in? (Hint: A LOT of the process!) What’s new in Office BFFs that you won’t see or hear anywhere else? And what about the book writing process did she love and what wasn’t so much fun? Press play for a full dive into The Office, podcasting, book writing, and more with Jenna Fischer.