A few weeks ago, The Frame visited the set of the Amazon series “Transparent” and sat down with creator and executive producer Jill Soloway. The series has been nominated for 11 Emmys and has greatly raised the profile of trans people in the public conversation.
Soloway is also an advocate for women in the business. And she doesn’t take her position as a showrunner lightly. When she spoke with The Frame's John Horn, Soloway reflected on how she's able to use her position to affect the gender imbalance in Hollywood.
It's an imbalance made all the more stark by a new study from The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at UC San Diego.
One linguistic note about Soloway's remarks: CIS means people born as that gender.
You have talked about how there is a state of emergency for the female voice in Hollywood. What are you trying to do in terms of the people you hire to direct episodes of “Transparent”? Can one show start to make a difference?
Yeah, I think one show can make a difference. [In] season one we had 100 percent female directors. Season two we had one CIS male director, one trans director and the rest CIS women directors. You know, I’m often thinking about privilege and the privilege of protagonism ... I’m using the camera as a sort of litigating, as almost propaganda for my way of seeing the world. Every day I notice when I’m writing [and] directing that I’m in some ways creating propaganda about the way I see the world. And I realize how much men have been doing that without really noticing that they’re claiming their privilege by saying, Hey, this is how it feels to be a CIS white male. Hey this is how it feels to have privilege and access. This is how it feels to be straight. This is how it feels to be able to divide women into the good woman and the bad woman, the madonna and the whore. I don’t mean to get all preachy and political, but the more I see it, the more I realize that it’s really as simple as allowing people access to the camera and to the directing chair and to the scriptwriting.
“Transparent” has gotten straight white men to look at a transgender woman in a very different way. I’m curious what the impact of that means to you.
You know, I grew up in the late ‘60s early ‘70s, and my mom was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. And I sort of realize now — when I see how energizing it is to be part of a civil rights movement — what I grew up believing made life meaningful was to feel like you were doing something that mattered. So I think of myself as a comedian who learned how to direct. And my feminism is part of who I am. The fact that I can add up all of that into changing the world, I just feel lucky that we get to come to work and know we’re here changing the world.