Tema Staig is having a better day than anyone in Alien

Tema Staig is the Executive Director of Women In Media, an organization that she founded in 2010.  In 2016, in response to the many excuses for why people weren’t hiring women behind the scenes in entertainment, she created the Women In Media (WiM) Crew List, a Google doc that went viral.  She took Women In Media 501(c)3 in 2017, transitioning the grassroots community into a vibrant organization and establishing the searchable crew list database as the go-to place to find, vet, and hire women above and below the line.

Ms. Staig has been in the film industry since earning her master’s degree from the Tisch Department of Design for Stage and Screen in 1999. Staig is LA County Woman of the Year for 2023.

Known as a moderator, keynote speaker, and panelist, she is thrilled to share her enthusiasm for film, film history, and women in the workforce. Inquiries can be made here: www.temastaiglive.com

What were you like as a teen? 
My first roommate (at 18) was in the comedy scene in Boston. This was the 80’s, so we didn’t know it, but it was peak comedy. Folks would come to the house and try out their routines on me to see if they landed, or if I could bounce back some ideas. Even met some folks who seemed super old at the time (they must have been in their late 20’s or early 30’s) such as Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, and Bobcat Goldthwait.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job? 
I worked at Arby’s at 14 because hey…. it was New Jersey and I needed pocket change to go to the mall. I was so bad that they had me wiping tables, not even working the very prestigious cashier job. I looked amazing in my cowgirl hat and uniform, I can tell you!
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
I’m not a comedienne per se. However, my biggest comedy moment is probably popping out a kid. Three days of labor is a laugh riot! Here I am, 17 years later with a child who’s four inches taller than I am. Who knew?
When you were coming up around comedy, what helped you stick with it? 
A deep-seated knowledge that many people are dead wrong about what women can do, including comedy. We really can do everything, including running a scissor lift, DJ’ing, and day trading stocks. All things I was told I couldn’t do, but have done really well. Sometimes I’m even funny when I do them.
Have you ever dealt with trolls?
Mostly, I clap back so fast and so hard that their head spins off their shoulders. Toxic people are usually kinda stupid, so running circles around them is like shooting fish in a barrel. That is if I’ve had enough coffee, and they’ve had a few drinks. I’ve had to learn to use my inner voice in polite company, because if people knew what I was actually thinking…. whooo boy!
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Ignore the haters and keep your eyes on the prize. That being said, lead with kindness.
How has being funny helped you in your life? 
It’s good to have a sense of humor. It just might save your boss’s life.
What specific things do you think a comedy writer should do to shape their voice?
Try out new material on a trusted friend(s). Sometimes if material falls flat, it might be the material itself, or it might be the delivery, so try it out a few ways. If it’s not working but you really like it, shelve it for now. It may spark something funnier down the line. If you don’t love it, just let it go. You have lots of ideas, don’t be too precious about them.
What is your go-to movie when you’ve had a bad day?
Alien–everyone in that movie is having a way worse day than I am.
What single word always cracks you up?