Jill Soloway

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Jill Soloway
Jill Soloway, May 2013
Soloway in May 2013
Born Jill L. Soloway
(1965-09-26) September 26, 1965 (age 53)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Residence Silver Lake, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison
Occupation
  • Writer
  • director
  • producer
  • comedian
Years active 2000–present
Spouse(s)
Bruce Gilbert
(m. 2011; separated 2015)
[1]
Children 2
Relatives Faith Soloway (sister)
Website jillsoloway.com

Jill Soloway (born September 26, 1965)[2][3][4] is an American television creator, showrunner, director and writer. Soloway won the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for directing and writing the film Afternoon Delight. They are also known for their work on Six Feet Under and for creating, writing, executive producing and directing the Amazon original series Transparent, for which they won two Emmys.[5]

Soloway identifies as nonbinary and gender non-conforming, and uses gender-neutral singular they pronouns.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Soloway was born to a Jewish family[8] in Chicago, Illinois, to public relations consultant, coach and writer, Elaine Soloway,[9] and psychiatrist[10][11] Dr. Harry J. Soloway, who grew up in London.[12] Around 2011, Dr. Soloway came out as transgender.[13][14][15]

Soloway's elder sister, Faith, is a Boston-based musician and performer with whom Jill sometimes collaborates.[10][16][17][18] Both Jill and Faith attended Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago.[11] Jill Soloway graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a communications arts major.[13][19][20]

Soloway's mother was formerly a press aide to Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and was a former communications director for School Superintendent Ruth Love.[21] After 30 years, Soloway's parents divorced.[22] Soloway has a stepfather named Tommy Madison.[23]

Living in the Los Angeles area amidst artists and writers Soloway, who is Jewish and deals with Jewish ideas in many of their works,[24] co-founded the "East Side Jews collective".[25][26]

Career[edit]

While at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Soloway was a film and television student of JJ Murphy and participated in the creation of an undergraduate experimental narrative film entitled Ring of Fire as the assistant director under director Anita Katzman. After college they worked as a production assistant in commercials and music videos in Chicago, as well as at Kartemquin Films on the movie Hoop Dreams.[13]

While in Chicago, Soloway and their sister co-developed a parody of The Brady Bunch for live stage called The Real Live Brady Bunch, which began their professional theatrical writing and directing endeavors. Again with sister Faith, they sold a pilot script to HBO called Jewess Jones about a female superhero. Also at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago, the pair created plays The Miss Vagina Pageant, and later, while in Los Angeles, Not Without My Nipples. Their short story, Courteney Cox's Asshole, caught the attention of Alan Ball and got them hired on Six Feet Under.[11]

With Maggie Rowe, Soloway co-created Hollywood Hellhouse and Sit n' Spin.[27]

Television[edit]

Soloway began their TV writing career on shows such as The Oblongs, Nikki and The Steve Harvey Show. They 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 for five seasons from 2001 to 2005.[28] They received 3 Emmy nominations in 2002, 2003 and 2005 for Outstanding Drama Series.[29]

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

In August 2016, Amazon premiered a Soloway-directed pilot of I Love Dick, based on the novel by the same name by Chris Kraus.[30] It was later picked up for a full season,[31] which premiered on May 12, 2017.[32]

Transparent[edit]

Soloway created the pilot Transparent for Amazon.com, which became available for streaming and download on February 6, 2014, and was part of Amazon's second pilot season.[33][34] Soloway collaborates with their sister, Faith Soloway, who serves as a co-writer on Transparent.[35] They were inspired by their parent who came out as transgender.[15] The show stars Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, and Amy Landecker as siblings whose parent (played by Jeffrey Tambor) reveals she is going through a significant life transition.[36] The pilot for Transparent was picked up by Amazon Studios.[13][37]

As part of the making of the show, Soloway enacted a "transfirmative action program", whereby transgender applicants were hired in preference to nontransgender ones.[13] As of August 2014, over eighty transgender people have worked on the show, including two transgender consultants.[13] All the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral.[38]

Soloway wrote Hoffmann's role on Transparent especially for Hoffmann after seeing her performance on Louie.[39] Transparent premiered all ten episodes simultaneously in late September 2014.[40] The show wrapped its fourth season in 2017, and Amazon has renewed it for a fifth season to be released in 2019.[41]

Soloway received two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2016 for Transparent and the show has received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series.[29]

Film[edit]

Soloway's first film was a 13-minute short titled Una Hora Por Favora, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. The film stars Michaela Watkins and Wilmer Valderrama. The film tells the story of a woman (Watkins) who hires a day laborer (Valderrama) to do some handy work at her home, but their relationship soon goes beyond professional.[42][43][44]

Afternoon Delight (2013) was Soloway's feature film debut at Sundance[5] for which they won the Directing Award.[45] The film follows Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), a thirty-something woman who is struggling to rekindle her relationship with her husband (Josh Radnor), and ultimately befriends an exotic dancer (Juno Temple).[46] In an interview by IndieWire, Soloway described their personal connection to the film's central character saying, "There’s a lot of me in Rachel’s journey. I’ve never brought a stripper home, but I’ve always loved reading the memoirs of strippers and sex workers. I feel like they’re the war reporters for women. They go to the front lines of a very particular kind of extreme conflict and live there, then write about it so we can experience it with them."[47]

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.[48]

Writing[edit]

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

Themes[edit]

Jewish religion and culture, queer sexuality and gender are recurring themes in Soloway's show, Transparent.[35] "The Transparent narrative is not, then, just or even mostly about transition and transgender. It’s about big themes like familial secrets and transformation, revelation and change, all of which are rendered through the specificity and magic of television images and sounds, which create imaginative worlds."[35]

Soloway gave a keynote address for Toronto International Film Festival discussing the female gaze. In the keynote address, Soloway said, "The Female Gaze inspires a collective roar, we fill with power as we corroborate one another and collaborate, blatantly ask the obvious questions about the divided feminine, call out from our muted and blindfolded object-ized humanity. We take our blindfolds off and say what we see."[49]

Soloway has said that they feel that they have always been writing similar themes, what they call "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."[50]

Honors[edit]

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Soloway received the Directing Award (United States, Drama) for their first feature-length film, the 2013 comedy-drama Afternoon Delight.[5][51] They have seven Emmy nominations and two wins.[29] Soloway is also a member of the board of the San Francisco Film Society.[51]

In 2015, Soloway's show Transparent won a Golden Globe for Best Series - Musical or Comedy.[52] Later that same year, Soloway won a DGA Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for their work directing episode 1.08 ("Best New Girl") of the show.[53][54] Also in 2015, they were named as one of The Forward 50.[55] In 2016, they won another Emmy for directing episode 2.09 (" Man on the Land") of Transparent.[56] Also in 2016, they were a finalist for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[57] Also in 2016, Soloway was named to Oprah Winfrey's SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.[58]

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, Soloway married music supervisor Bruce Gilbert, with whom Soloway had been in a relationship since 2008. They have a son named Felix Soloway Gilbert. Soloway's older son, Isaac, is from a prior relationship with artist John Strozier. In 2015, Soloway announced being in the process of separating from Gilbert, and that Soloway was in a relationship with poet Eileen Myles, whom Soloway met through Transparent;[1][1][59] their romantic relationship has since ended,[6] and Myles and Soloway held an event at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in which they "processed [their] relationship onstage."[6]

Soloway lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.[5][60]

Soloway identifies as nonbinary and gender non-conforming, and uses gender-neutral singular they pronouns.[6][7]

Activism[edit]

Soloway is a strong supporter of feminism[61] and co-founded the website Wifey.tv[62] which is described as, "a curated video network for women"[63] that includes content created by and for women. In an interview by Forbes, Soloway discusses the site saying, "I really like when our content appears to contradict itself at first glance. One day we might post something about sexism or the male gaze, then the next day post something that might be seen as precisely too sexy or raunchy, but it comes from a female creator or artist so it’s relevant. We love the conversation and don’t feel as dependent on insisting on a particular point of view."[64]

Soloway also co-founded the East Side Jews collective,[25] which is funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.[26] The collective "brings together 20- and 30-something Jews in Silver Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods of Los Angeles for offbeat, too-cool-for-shul events that tend to be heavy on comedy and light on Jewish ritual."[25]

They co-wrote The Thanksgiving Paris Manifesto with Eileen Myles in 2016,[65] which is a feminist manifesto about the pornography industry. The manifesto was posted on topplethepatriarchy.com, a domain purchased by Myles and Soloway.[65] The manifesto opens with, "We shouldn’t be starting with porn but we must. We support the idea of a porn industry and the idea of people making a living photographing and sharing images of sex but we don’t support an industry that exclusively distributes portrayals of almost exclusively male pleasure and climax."[66]

Works or publications[edit]

  • Bright, Susie, Eric Albert, Greta Christina, and Jill Soloway. "Jodi K." (novella) Susie Bright Presents: Three Kinds of Asking for It : Erotic Novellas, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005; ISBN 978-0-743-24550-0
  • Soloway, Jill. Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants: Based on a True Story, New York: Free Press, 2005; ISBN 978-0-743-27217-9

References[edit]

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External links[edit]