Writer and Director
As a little kid who watched TV, writer and director Jill Soloway says she wanted to be on "the other side of the glass." Now she's the creator of "Transparent," a show based on her personal experience having a parent come out as transgendered. Soloway offers her Brief But Spectacular take on the evolution in Hollywood toward embracing more diverse stories and perspectives.
GWEN IFILL: We close with another in a series of interviews we're calling Brief but Spectacular.
Tonight, we hear from Jill Soloway, creator and executive producer of Amazon's "Transparent."
Just today, the show was nominated for its second Emmy. She talks about the transitions that have shaped her life and are shifting Hollywood.
JILL SOLOWAY, Creator, "Transparent": When I was a little kid, watching television, I was probably writing it in my head, pretending like I was inside the TV, instead of outside the TV, because that's where I wanted to be, on the other side of the glass.
Now I am. Hi from the other side of the glass.
So, I was really obsessed with like, what does it mean to be a female subject? And the only way for me to really sort of get there, where I was like holding the camera, was to direct. And nobody in TV would let me direct.
I started to imagine what my director's voice could look like, and started to imagine this sort of reclaiming of the male gaze. I like to call it the female gaze, about how it feels to be inside of a woman's body and mind, rather than looking at her, which I feel like most television, most film does, creates them as objects, instead of subjects.
And so I made a short film, entered it into Sundance. It got in, and was back the following year at Sundance with a feature. And I won the directing award, which was crazy. Somewhere around that time, my parent called me with a somewhat important piece of news, to come out as trans.
Besides being a good loving daughter, which is my main — was my main thought and my main responsibility, there was like this kind of like voice on the side going, this is going to be your show. It was almost like this — like a freight train.
The truth of my personal story, my parents' story, this family's journey, it was all just happening. Whatever small pieces of privacy we give up by people knowing that parts of this are inspired by real life is all worth it, because I — we all get so many people coming to us and saying that the show changed their lives.
There is this like adage that we used to hear in the writers room. It was write Yiddish, cast British. And I think we have written Yiddish and cast Yiddish on this show. When I was coming up through network television, where you would work on a show and they would be, like, I know you love the show because you wrote it. And we love the show here at the network because we're cool, but we're going to need to show it to the kind of people who hate you, just to make sure that America wouldn't hate you, because we have a feeling people would hate you.
I used to these write shows about these unlikable Jewish female protagonists, and you always have this nightmare that there's like two guys with white hair on the golf course going like, she's very unlikable. Let's not do a show about her, and that somehow, no matter what you're doing, it's going past these kinds of gatekeepers.
The Internet is a way of kind of understanding that we can all reach each other at the same time, instead of having to climb up the ladder to the top of the mountain, where the gatekeepers are, where that golf course is.
There is something about the way that everybody can talk to everybody at the same time all around the world. It's a disruption of everything that allows there to be a new platform where this kind of material can be distributed and there can be the kind of social media that can allow people to share their feelings about it. It feels like the future.
I'm Jill Soloway. And this is my Brief but Spectacular take on transitions in Hollywood.