Jill Soloway

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Jill Soloway
Jill Soloway, May 2013
Jill Soloway, May 2013
Born Jill L. Soloway
(1965-09-26) September 26, 1965 (age 49)[1][2][3]
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
Occupation Writer
Years active (2000-present)
Religion Jewish[4]
Spouse(s) Bruce Gilbert (m. 2011)
Partner(s) Dink Adams
Children 2
Relatives Faith Soloway (sister)

Jill Soloway (born September 26, 1965)[2][3] is an American comedian, playwright, feminist and Emmy-nominated television writer and award-winning director who won the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for directing and writing the film Afternoon Delight. She is also known for her work on Six Feet Under and for creating, writing, executive producing and directing the Amazon original series Transparent.[5]

Early life[edit]

Soloway was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of public relations consultant, coach and writer, Elaine Soloway,[6] and psychiatrist father,[7][8] Dr. Harry J. Soloway.[9] Around 2011 Soloway's father came out as transgender.[10][11][12]

She has a sister, Faith Soloway,[7] with whom she sometimes collaborates,[13] and who is 18 months older than she and is a Boston-based musician and performer.[14][15] On her family: "I was part of a wonderful, brilliant, funny family, even if we weren't always having such a great time."[8]

Her family is Jewish,[16][17] although Soloway said "Even though we were Jewish, we were never really around a lot of other Jews so we never had the kind of community stuff I see going on at temple. I never felt like a Jew."[18] On being Jewish: "To me, Judaism is all about questioning. I constantly question everything that I do, and sometimes I worry that I sound like a big complainer, dissatisfied with my life. Then I realize it's just my Jewishness and I feel relieved."[8]

Soloway said that she and her sister attended "an all black school up to the sixth grade" in Chicago. In addition to being the only Jewish kids, she said the experience left her feeling like an outsider.[18] Soloway "spent her early years in South Commons, on the near south side, before her father changed professions from anesthesiology to psychiatry, prompting the family to eventually decamp to the Gold Coast. She and her sister, Faith, spent their high school years at Lane Tech (Lane Technical College Prep High School)."[8]

Soloway's mother was formerly a press aide to Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and was a former communications director for School Superintendent Ruth Love.[19] After 30 years, Soloway's parents divorced.[20] Soloway has a stepfather named Tommy Madison.[21]

On starting to write as a kid, Soloway said "I grew up watching my mom write--first newsletters for the neighborhood, then PR when she started her own business. She's a great writer and has her own memoir," The Division Street Princess.[8]

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a Communications Arts major.[10][22][23]


While at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Soloway was a film/TV student of JJ Murphy and participated in the creation of an undergraduate experimental narrative film entitled, Ring Of Fire as the AD under director Anita Katzman.

After college she worked as a production assistant in commercials and music videos in Chicago, as well as at Kartemquin Films on the movie Hoop Dreams.[10]

While in Chicago, Soloway and her sister Faith Soloway co-developed a parody of The Brady Bunch TV show for live stage called The Real Live Brady Bunch, which began her professional theatrical writing and directing endeavors. With her sister Faith, she sold a pilot script to HBO called Jewess Jones about a female superhero. Also at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago, she and Faith created plays The Miss Vagina Pageant, and later, while in Los Angeles, Not Without My Nipples.

On Soloway's big break[4] in Los Angeles: "It was the frustration of working on a particularly horrid one [sitcom] that made her sit down and write her first short story, 'Courteney Cox's Asshole'--told from the perspective of Cox's fictional personal assistant, whose duties include fielding press calls about a rumor that Cox bleaches her anus. It was published in the literary journal Zyzzyva, featured on Andrei Codrescu's website Exquisite Corpse, and developed a cult following on the Internet."[8] The short story caught the attention of Alan Ball and got her hired on Six Feet Under.[8]

With Maggie Rowe, Jill co-created Hollywood Hellhouse and Sit n' Spin.[24]


Soloway began her TV writing career on shows such as The Oblongs, Nikki and The Steve Harvey Show. She followed those shows by writing for four seasons on the HBO original series Six Feet Under, ultimately serving as co-executive producer. Six Feet Under ran from 2001 to 2005 for five seasons.[25]

Six Feet Under episodes[edit]

Soloway later wrote on Dirty Sexy Money, Grey's Anatomy, Tell Me You Love Me, and was executive producer/showrunner for Showtime's United States of Tara created by writer Diablo Cody as well as HBO's How to Make it in America, created by Ian Edelman.

Soloway created the pilot Transparent for Amazon.com, which became available for free streaming and download on February 6, 2014 and was part of Amazon's second pilot season.[26][27] She was insipired by her father who came out as transgender.[12] The show stars Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, and Amy Landecker as siblings whose father (played by Jeffrey Tambor) reveals he is going through a significant life transition.[28] On the new web-based TV viewing experience: "The socialist in me welcomes the kind of democratization these platforms are bringing to our creative community and the viewing public. I feel like I’m part of this creative revolution, like an Arab Spring—but let’s call it an Auteur T.V. Spring—sweeping across the land."[29]

The pilot for Transparent was picked up by Amazon Studios.[10][30] On what transparent means to her: "Transparent stands for gender freedom for all, and within that freedom we can find grays and muddled purples and pinks, chakras that bridge the heart and mind, sexiness that depends on a masochistic love or a sweeping soul dominance. In particular, Transparent wants to invent worlds that bridge the binary: Genderqueer, Boygirl, Girlboy, Macho Princess, and Officer Sweet Slutty Bear Captain are just a few incredibly confusing, gender-fucking concepts that come to mind."[29] The show is "about sex and intimacy, about a family inheritance of a woman being born. They get this new mother from their father’s female self."[31]

As part of the making of the show, Soloway enacted a “transfirmative action program,” "favoring the hiring of transgender candidates over nontransgender ones."[10] This meant that "20 trans people had been hired in the cast and crew, and more than 60 had been employed as extras."[10] She also hired "two full-time transgender consultants to steer her away from any pitfalls."[10] All the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral.[32] In research for the show: "Our work has been influenced by our consultants, well-known transgender cultural producers Jennifer Finney Boylan, Rhys Ernst, and Zackary Drucker. On our coffee table at work we have the Trans zine Original Plumbing, as well as every book ever written about being trans. My favorite is Whipping Girl by Julia Serano."[29]

Soloway wrote the role Gaby Hoffmann plays in Transparent for her after seeing her performance on Louis C.K.'s most recent season of Louie.[33] Soloway said: "The fact that this story [the TV show Transparent] happened for me in my personal life at the same time felt kind of divinely inspired and I felt very lucky."[12]

Transparent premiered in late September 2014 in the binge-watching-friendly mode where all ten episodes of the series will be available at once,[34] although Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ Head of Original Programming, told the Television Critics Association panel. “I don’t think of it as binging, I just think of it as a five-hour movie.”[34]


In addition to television, she has written and directed two films that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: Una Hora Por Favora (2012)[35] and Afternoon Delight (2013),[5] for which she won the Directing Award.[36]

Afternoon Delight played at national and international film festivals and was nominated for multiple awards, including a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Performance for Kathryn Hahn, and a Spirit Award for First Feature.[37] Soloway said that she could not have written Transparent without first writing Afternoon Delight, as she discovered her voice through the process of writing and making the film: "I can’t help but write Jewishly. I came to this place after Afternoon Delight. My voice works much better writing about the world I know, and the specificity allows me to go deeper."[31]


She wrote the novella Jodi K., which was published in the collection Three Kinds of Asking For It: Erotic Novellas edited by Susie Bright. Jill's memoir, Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants: Based on a True Story, was released in hardcover in 2005, and then in paperback in 2006.


Soloway said that she feels that she's always been writing similar themes, what she calls "The Heroine's Journey," which is "about repairing the divided feminine: the wife and the other woman confronting each other -- mom, stripper. That I think women's journeys are really about repairing these sort of divided parts of ourselves. And this divide in our culture that I think is responsible for so much that is a problem in our culture."[38]


At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Soloway received the Directing Award (United States, Drama) for her first film, the 2013 comedy-drama Afternoon Delight.[5][39] She has 3 Emmy nominations.[5] Soloway is also a member of the board of the San Francisco Film Society.[39]

In 2015, Soloway's show Transparent won a Golden Globe for Best Series - Musical or Comedy.[40] Later that same year, Soloway won a DGA Award for her work directing episode 108 of the show.[41]

Personal life[edit]

For me being a female and being a Jew have always gone together. Andrea Dworkin wrote that if you want to understand anti-Semitism, you have to understand misogyny--that the hatred of the Jew is really the hatred of the feminine. It's a fear of the questions.[8]

Jill Soloway, "Confessions of a Masturgoogler."
Chicago Reader (15 September 2005)

In 2011, Soloway married music supervisor Bruce Gilbert, with whom she has been in a relationship with since 2008. They have a young son named Felix Soloway Gilbert. Her older son, Isaac, is from a prior relationship.[4] She was in a relationship with Dennis "Dink" Adams, a key grip, who was featured in her book and who she referred to as her "husfriend" for at least 4 years when she was in her early 40s.[18]

Soloway lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.[5][42]


  • Soloway is a strong supporter of feminism[43]
  • Co-founded the website wifey.tv[44]
  • Co-founded the East Side Jews collective which is dedicated to “reinventing Jewish traditions and experiences in ways that would attract other young Jews largely turned off to traditional forms of religious life."[45] The collective is funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles[16]

Works or publications[edit]


  1. ^ "Jill L Soloway - United States Public Records, 1970-2009". FamilySearch. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Corcoran, Monica (4 September 2005). "Jill Soloway: To Tell the Truth". The New York Times. Ms. Soloway, 39 
  3. ^ a b Caro, Mark (21 March 2014). "Jill Soloway hits it big with Amazon's 'Transparent'". Chicago Tribune. Jill, 48 
  4. ^ a b c Haber, Gordon (1 January 2012). "Her Beachfront Home in Heaven: Jill Soloway Thrives by Balancing Success and Faith". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Ryzik, Melena (22 August 2013). "A Female Gaze on Ladies Who Lust: ‘Afternoon Delight’ Is Jill Soloway’s Sexually Frank Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Schmich, Mary (13 October 2010). "Risky to reveal your age? Businesswoman isn't afraid to reveal she's 72". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Soloway, Faith; Soloway, Jill (25 October 2010). "The Funny Women Interview: The Soloway Sisters". The Rumpus. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Miller, Danny (15 September 2005). "Confessions of a Masturgoogler: The Real Live Brady Bunch got her started, Six Feet Under made her legit, but Jill Soloway won't be happy until she's a household name.". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Elaine, Soloway (14 February 2012). "Matching Bands". Soloway Stories. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Brodesser-Akner, Taffy (29 August 2014). "Can Jill Soloway Do Justice to the Trans Movement?". The New York Times (NY Times Magazine). Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Ehrhardt, Michelle (29 August 2014). "5 Things We Learned About Jill Soloway’s Transparent". Out Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Wilson, Stacey (17 December 2014). "'Transparent' Boss Reveals the Moment She Decided to Make a Show About a Transgender Parent". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  13. ^ King, Loren (14 September 2013). "Meet the Soloway sisters". Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Brune, Adrian Margaret (16 September 2011). "A Tale of Two Sisters: Jill and Faith Soloway, Collaborators, Partners, Emmy Writers". Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Liz and Rebecca Feldman face off against Jill and Faith Soloway in a Sister Spelling Bee". After Ellen. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Karpel, Ari (4 September 2013). "Is This ‘the Face of the Future of Judaism’ for a New Generation in Los Angeles? TV and film director Jill Soloway has been running a de facto Jewish community. The question is whether it can outlast her success.". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  17. ^ Sass, Megan (29 August 2013). "“They Go Home And They Have Sex”: Heeb Chats With Afternoon Delight Writer/Director Jill Soloway". Heeb Magazine. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c Olen, Helaine (22 January 2006). "An Interview with Jill Soloway". Literary Mama. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Elaine & Her Team". Elaine Soloway Consulting. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Elaine, Soloway (23 April 2009). "Sweet Tooth". Soloway Stories. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Elaine M Soloway: Nevada, Marriage Index, 1956-2005". FamilySearch. 13 January 1998. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  22. ^ Trevis, Michael (21 November 2013). "Filmmaker Jill Soloway Visits Her Alma Mater". Department of Communication Arts. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Shapiro, Gregg (6 September 2013). "UW-Madison alumna Jill Soloway says her Sundance Award-winning debut film is a tribute to sisterhood". Wisconsin Gazette. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Lustick, Adam (17 June 2011). "The Big Jewcy: Jill Soloway – Writer/Producer, Making Things Happen On LA’s East Side". Jewcy. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Soloway, Jill (9 September 2013). "Jill Soloway answers the most frequently asked questions about TV". Hollywood Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (15 February 2014). "Interview: 'Transparent' creator Jill Soloway discusses her Amazon pilot". HitFix. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Lyons, Margaret (13 February 2014). "Talking to Jill Soloway About Her Wonderful Amazon Pilot, Transparent". Vulture. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  28. ^ Goodman, Tim (18 February 2014). "Amazon's New Crop of Pilots, Including Chris Carter's 'The After': TV Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c Spruce, Lenny (1 May 2014). "Jill Soloway: Let’s mix up these Rochdale Principles with a little Matrixial Trans-Subjectivity". Flaunt Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  30. ^ Willmore, Alison (7 February 2014). "Why 'Transparent' Creator Jill Soloway Feels the Amazon Pilot Process is 'Revolutionary'". Indiewire. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Strauss, Elissa (16 February 2014). "Jill Soloway's 'Transparent'". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Martin, Denise (2 September 2014). "Gaby Hoffmann on Girls, Growing Up in ’80s New York, and Her Amazon Show Transparent". Vulture (New York Magazine). Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  33. ^ Katz, Jessie (11 March 2014). "Pret-a Reporter: Dynamic Duos: Jill Soloway and Gaby Hoffmann are Ready to Inhabit Your Brain". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  34. ^ a b Prudom, Laura (12 July 2014). "Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ Season 1 to Debut Late September, ‘Bosch’ Premiering Early 2015". Variety. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  35. ^ Soloway, Jill (11 January 2012). "The Sundance Diaries: Why I Didn't Invite My Mother to Sundance". Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  36. ^ Soffer, Rebecca (19 August 2013). "Strippers, Jewish Guilt, and Loneliness Collide in Jill Soloway’s New Feature Film: The award-winning director talks about why ‘Afternoon Delight’ begins with a lap dance and ends with Shabbat" (PODCAST). Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  37. ^ Bronner, Sasha (29 August 2013). "Jill Soloway, 'Afternoon Delight' Filmmaker: I Should Have Written 'Girls' 10 Years Ago". Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Smith, Krista (22 January 2013). "Josh Radnor and Jill Soloway on Afternoon Delight" (VIDEO INTERVIEW). Vanity Fair (Park City, Utah). Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  39. ^ a b Soloway, Jill (16 August 2013). "17 Reasons Why Chicks Actually Make Better Directors". Indiewire. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  40. ^ "Golden Globe Winners 2015". Variety. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  41. ^ "DGA Awards Winners 2015". Deadline. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  42. ^ Looseleaf, Victoria (13 October 2005). "My Favorite Weekend: Jill Soloway - A few feet away from 'Six Feet Under' days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  43. ^ "Jill Soloway - A Day In the Life". National Organization for Women (NOW). 15 August 2007. 
  44. ^ Bendix, Trish (18 February 2014). "Jill Soloway on queering television and the web with "Transparent"". After Ellen. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  45. ^ Rosenblatt, Gary (19 March 2013). "L.A. As A Model For The Jewish Future - Jewish Funders Network conference highlights efforts to reinvent Jewish life by challenging the status quo". The Jewish Week. 

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