Jill Soloway is starting a revolution—and from the looks of last night's Golden Globes, she's totally nailing it: Transparent took home a well-deserved award for Best TV Comedy or Musical Series. Though the category was pleasantly packed with feminist fare (four of the five programs nominated center around women!) we were thrilled to see Soloway's show come out ahead.
If you haven't yet seen her acceptance speech, it deserves a slice of your day (try not to cry from all the feels, we dare you)—as does our Q&A with the award-winning writer/director/producer/general bad ass, which appeared in our Oct./Nov. 2014 print issue. Get your read on below!
Jill Soloway’s New Show Transparent May Be the Hottest Show (Not) on Television
Jill Soloway is not fucking around. The writer/director/producer of the Amazon series Transparent (which premiered in September) may be well known in Hollywood for her ability to create a warm, nurturing environment at work. But the TV veteran, who has done stints behind the scenes on Six Feet Under, United States of Tara, and Grey’s Anatomy, is also a fierce creative warrior.
“It’s not just art,” she tells me during a break in shooting. “I’m really trying to make a feminist revolution happen.” And she’s not exaggerating: Transparent is nothing short of revolutionary.
The show follows the fortunes of the Pfefferman family, which includes the patriarch, played by Jeffrey Tambor, who’s struggling with how to tell his three grown children that he is transitioning from male to female; and his kids, played by Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffmann. In a way, the Pfeffermans, at least in part, were inspired by the Soloways. The Pfeffermans’ house was made to look like Soloway’s childhood home, and the moment in the pilot where Landecker cleans barbeque sauce off of Tambor’s face was directly inspired by a real-life Soloway family dinner. “We’re always looking for the hair that’s out of place and the odd thing left behind,” Soloway tells me of that touching scene. “My whole directing style is ‘sauce on people’s faces,’ not just in that scene.”
To that end, Soloway seems unconcerned with the concept of perfection in art. But that doesn’t mean she’s never fallen prey to the urge to make her work fit the status quo. “I was basically doing what I was told the first 10 years of my career,” she says. “I took all of my feminist, weird, freaky, artsy, Jew-y jokes, notions, and storylines, and hid them in TV-pretty actresses and in storylines that didn’t focus on those things.” But Soloway points to Lena Dunham and Louis C.K. as her inspirations to break out of that cycle, saying they both “really put the ugly out in front, put the inappropriate out in front, and let the wrongness lead.”
Soloway broke out as a filmmaker with the 2013 feature Afternoon Delight. That movie nabbed her the Dramatic Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival and paved the way for Transparent, a project that provides an opportunity for the politically active artist to combine all of her interests. “[Before Transparent] I had to separate out [all of my passions]: ‘OK here’s my feminism, here’s my activism, here’s my Judaism,’” she says. “But this is my moment to really put everything together.” And while she’s also written books and worked on the web (check out her amazing site, Wifey.tv) Soloway’s true love has always been the TV episodic form. “I think the dream has always been to be the girl inside the television,” she says, “instead of just being the girl looking at it.”
Written by: Sara Benincasa ; Photographed by: Diana King ; Stylist: Krissie Torgerson; Hair: Tony Vin; Makeup: Allie Lapidus