Portrait of Jenji Kohan by Michael Netzer
|Born||Jenji Leslie Kohan
July 5, 1969
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Occupation||Television writer, producer|
|Parent(s)||Buz Kohan (father)
Rhea Kohan (mother)
|Relatives||David Kohan (brother)
Jono Kohan (brother)
Jenji Leslie Kohan (born July 5, 1969) is an American television writer and producer. She is best known as the creator of the Showtime comedy-drama series Weeds and the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black. She has received nine Emmy Award nominations, winning one as supervising producer of the comedy series Tracey Takes On....
Kohan was born to a Jewish family in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of novelist Rhea Kohan (née Arnold), and writer, producer, and composer, Alan W. "Buz" Kohan. Kohan has two older brothers, twins Jono and David. She comes from a show business family: Buz is an Emmy Award-winning television writer, and David is an Emmy Award-winning television producer.
Kohan says that Buz was the "king of variety television in his day," writing and producing the Oscars and other variety shows. Her mother was a writer. She grew up in Beverly Hills, California. She first attended Brandeis University, and transferred to Columbia University as a sophomore, where she graduated, with a degree in English language and literature, in 1991.
On her beginnings, an ex-boyfriend told her that she had "a better chance of getting elected to Congress than getting on the staff of a television show".
Kohan's first show was Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which Kohan said was a "rough entrance" to the business. After a series of writing jobs on shows such as Mad About You, Tracey Takes On..., and Friends, she collaborated with her brother, David Kohan, writing an outside script for Will & Grace. The siblings also worked together on the sitcom The Stones for CBS, which was ultimately unsuccessful. She has discussed the differences between her and her brother's career saying, "David took the big, commercial, funny route; I was always a little darker personally, and not terrific within the system. I had to make my own way."
Kohan was the creator, executive producer, showrunner, and head writer of the Showtime comedy-drama Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker. She sold the pilot to Showtime with five words: "Suburban. Widowed. Pot. Dealing. Mom." The show went on to run for eight seasons.
Orange Is the New Black
Kohan is the creator of Netflix's crime drama Orange Is the New Black, an adaptation that was inspired by Piper Kerman's memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison about her experiences in a minimum-security women's prison.
Kohan runs her writer's room for Orange from Los Angeles, while the show films in New York.
Netflix, as a streaming service distribution model of TV and movie content, is unique in that it does not provide ratings information, so Kohan does not know exact ratings for Orange Is the New Black, which has been characterized as the most watched original series on Netflix, in a new distribution model where binge viewing is enabled by full seasons of shows being made available at once.
Awards and nominations
Kohan has received nine Emmy Award nominations, winning as supervising producer of Tracey Takes On.... She shared a CableACE Award in 1996 for her work on that show. She received her first nomination for her show Weeds in 2009, for Outstanding Comedy Series. She was nominated for a Producers Guild of America Award in 2007, and two Writers Guild of America Awards.
Kohan is married to author and freelance journalist Christopher Noxon. They have three children, a son Charlie, a daughter Eliza, and youngest son Oscar. They live in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, California. Kohan and her family are Jewish; they belong to two synagogues and a chavurah group, and her children attend Jewish day school and summer camp. Every Friday, Kohan and her extended family have Shabbat dinner together.
- 1994: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – writer (1 episode, "Stop Will! in the Name of Love")
- 1996: Boston Common – writer (1 episode, "Relationship of Fools")
- 1996–1999: Tracey Takes On... – writer (18 episodes); supervising producer/producer (47 episodes)
- 1997: Mad About You – producer, writer (1 episode, "The Recital"), written by credit (1 episode, "Astrology")
- 1998: Sex and the City – story (1 episode, "The Power of Female Sex")
- 2000: Gilmore Girls – producer (12 episodes), writer (1 episode, "Kiss and Tell")
- 2002: Will & Grace – writer (1 episode, "Fagel Attraction")
- 2002: My Wonderful Life (TV movie) – writer, executive producer
- 2004: The Stones – writer, executive producer
- 2005–2012: Weeds – creator, writer, executive producer (102 episodes)
- 2009: Ronna & Beverly (TV movie) – writer, executive producer
- 2010: Tough Trade (TV movie) – creator, writer, executive producer
- 2013–present: Orange Is the New Black – creator, writer, executive producer
- 2015: The Devil You Know – creator, writer, executive producer
- Rose, Lacey (6 August 2014). "'Orange' Showrunner Jenji Kohan on Hollywood's Pay Inequality, 'F--- You' Money and Her 'Friends' Regrets". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Dekel, Jonathan (15 July 2013). "Q&A: Jenji Kohan on nudity, racism and homosexuality in Orange is the New Black". Canada.com. Postmedia Network Inc. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Jewish Journal: "Jenji Kohan: Smoking the Stereotypes" by Danielle Berrin May 20, 2009
- Martinson, Connie (14 July 1981). "Connie Martinson Talks Books: Rhea Kohan interview" (Video interview). The Drucker Institute. Claremont Colleges Digital Library. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Berrin, Danielle (3 May 2011). "Rhea Kohan: No one spits in her kids’ Kasha". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Aushenker, Michael (27 March 2003). "Queen of Laughter: Rhea Kohan reigns as mistress of ceremonies at Jewish functions in Los Angeles". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- "Buz Kohan Biography (1933-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Berrin, Danielle (20 May 2009). "Smoking the Stereotypes: ‘Weeds’ creator Jenji Kohan delights in tipping over Judaism’s sacred cows". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Kustanowitz, Esther (April 2009). "‘Weeds’ Creator, ‘Tara’ Producer, and the Hebrew Mamita Take on Images of Jewish Women in Media". Beliefnet. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Gross, Terry (13 August 2013). "'Orange' Creator Jenji Kohan: 'Piper Was My Trojan Horse'". Fresh Air (NPR). Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Martineau, Kim (Spring 2014). "Alumni Profiles: Jenji Kohan ’91 Finds Humor and Truth In Life’s Darker Moments". Columbia College Today. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- "'Weeds' Creator Delivers Potent Product". Fresh Air (NPR). 16 June 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Goldberg, Lesley (14 September 2012). "Jenji Kohan, Mary-Louise Parker Say Farewell to 'Weeds'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Gross, Terry (12 August 2013). "Behind 'The New Black': The Real Piper's Prison Story". Fresh Air (NPR). Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Fienberg, Daniel (10 July 2013). "Interview: 'Orange Is The New Black' creator Jenji Kohan talks prison, Netflix and Jodie Foster". HitFix. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Wilson, Stacey; Rose, Lacey (4 June 2014). "Comedy Showrunners Roundtable: Chuck Lorre, Jenji Kohan, Mike Judge on Ejaculation Shots, Awful Pitch Meetings and Salary Negotiations" (Video Roundtable). Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Fienberg, Daniel (15 March 2014). "11 Things We Learned From the 'Orange Is The New Black' PaleyFest Panel". HitFix. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Lewis, Hilary (27 December 2013). "'Orange Is the New Black' Creator Jenji Kohan: Netflix 'Cryptic' About Show's Popularity". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Littleton, Cynthia (15 March 2012). "Jenji Kohan inks new pact with Lionsgate TV". Variety. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Barragan, Bianca (13 March 2014). "HBO Writers Moving Into Westlake's Historic Hayworth Theatre". Curbed (L.A.). Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Ng, David (13 March 2014). "Historic Hayworth Theatre is entering a new stage of life". LA Times. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- "Jenji Kohan: Awards". IMDb. Amazon.com. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Rhimes, Shonda (23 April 2014). "Time 100 Pioneers: Jenji Kohan". Time. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- David, Mark (23 February 2009). "Weeds Creator Jenji Kohan Gets a New Nest". Variety. Retrieved 8 August 2014.