Born in Fort Wayne Indiana, but raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where she began taking acting lessons at age five, taught by her mother, Anne Fischer. Also in the class was Sean Gunn, who went on to play Kirk on the hit TV series Gilmore Girls. The two became friends and kept in touch over the years.
After high school, Fischer received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Truman State University, and while trying to break into show business, spent many years working as a receptionist and an admin assistant. In her early twenties, she began getting work in small budget productions. In 2000, she joined her friend Sean Gunn and his brother James Gunn in The Specials (2000), also written by James. She’d never met Sean’s older brother until the first reading for the movie, but they hit it off immediately and on October 7, 2000, they were married. Almost seven years later, however, they separated.
Guest appearances on several TV shows followed, including Spin City, What I Like About You, Strong Medicine and Miss Match. In 2004 she wrote, directed and co-starred (with husband James) in the mockumentary Lollilove, about a rich couple who try to make a difference by giving homeless people lollipops that have cheerful slogans on the wrappers. As a result, Fischer was awarded the Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award at the St. Louis Film Festival and the Tromadance Independent Soul Award at the American Film Market.
In 2005 she became a familiar face to TV viewers as Pam on the sitcom The Office, modelled after the British hit The Office. Playing an unambitious receptionist who doesn’t respect her boss, Fischer received a 2007 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and shared a 2007 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series with the rest of the cast.
Since then, she’s made the transition to the big screen with roles in major motion pictures such as Slither (2006), Blades of Glory (2007), The Brothers Solomon (2007) and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007).
An animal lover, Fischer once considered becoming a vet. She posed with her cat, Andy, for the 2006 People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful” issue.