While watching the Emmy nominations, I let out a scream. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was announced as a nominee for Outstanding Comedy Series. Woo Hoo! I’ll just say this: This show had better take home the win this Sunday at the Awards—because for me, it’s personal. The star was my inspiration. She changed my life. Let me take you back.
I was working away at a law firm in Montreal when two co-workers said things that made me rethink my life. First, Matt told me I resembled the new secretary on The Office. After a quick search, I discovered her: my doppelganger Ellie Kemper, aka Kimmy Schmidt.
Next, Noah asked, What do you want to do with your life? I wanted more than anything to be an entrepreneur, and he suggested getting an MBA. So I did.
When I graduated, I wasn’t ready to be a hot shot entrepreneur yet. I had more to learn, finances to save, time to discover my business path. Instead, I did what any self-respecting budding business would do. I accepted a job offer in LA’s booming tech industry. Then, amidst the challenges of layoffs and wrangling clients my way, it appeared: The Opportunity of a Lifetime. I began as a Consultant for Famous Birthdays, quickly rising to Director of Celebrity Relations, where I helped up-and-coming stars get profiled on the site. Many of the celebs I worked with were young Viners creating popular 6-second videos.
Then, Facebook friends started posting about a Netflix show called Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I tuned in and inspiration hit. What if I could recreate scenes from the show as Vine clips, inspired by the social media celebrities I was working with? I could use my big milestone birthday, which was coming soon, as a tie-in. An Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme for my party perhaps?
When Episode 9 aired and I was floored. Kimmy actually celebrated her own milestone birthday! There was no denying that some type of kismet force was present. As it turned out, my best friend, Missy, was a film major with production experience. Her suggestion? A web series was were it was at. Clearly, she was onto something (especially because she’d make the perfect Xan!). That night, I was jotting down notes like a madwoman. I’ve been a writer for years, but this was my first attempt at fiction—if you didn’t count my AP English class in high school where interestingly, I received my best grade on a parodied NSYNC song.
I felt my grandmother might be my angel, using her experience as a fiction writer to guide me. Even more bizarre is that Missy’s last name is the same as my grandmother’s maiden name, so we felt some otherworldly connection.
Last spring, Missy and I launched our first episode of Unbreakable Missy & Lori, a webseries parody that has already garnered more than 2,000 views—and since that time, we’ve even met the cast of the original series.
As I noted in a recent blog post, the critics on Twitter have been so kind, and when someone remarked that Episode 1 was “so funny,” I knew we were on our way. As I worked what were essentially two full-time jobs, the words of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character Titus Andromedon kept ringing in my ears: Escaping is not the same as making it, Kimmy. With the popularity of the Netflix show at an all-time high that would not last forever, it was time to seize this opportunity or it might pass me by. I couldn’t escape it; I had to find the courage within to give this project and myself a solid chance.
After all, if I had learned anything from Kimmy, it was that females are strong as hell, and we need to make the most of each new day. Just like Kimmy, I’m embracing a newfound freedom with a positive attitude and fierce tenacity. I’m determined to make it as I navigate this uncharted territory as an entrepreneur in my own right. I’ve discovered that I am indeed strong as hell and that I can use that strength to make Unbreakable Missy & Lori a success.
So thanks, Kimmy Schmidt—for doing it first.
Lori Weiss is an MBA graduate working as Director of Celebrity Relations for Famous Birthdays and Co-Creator (Writer, Producer, Lead Actress) of Unbreakable Missy & Lori, an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt parody.