Jill Soloway: Her life creating TV shows
But Jill’s stories aren’t about her– though they do take from her experiences. In fact, her life could have been one of her shows.
Jill Soloway’s almost-normal life
Born of a Jewish family in 1965 in Chicago, Jill grew up in South Commons with her older sister Faith.
While her mother Elaine blossomed in the community to the point of becoming the press aide of then-Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, her London-bred father Harry– a psychiatrist– became withdrawn and depressed.
“My parents had their own TVs and got together for meals and arguments,” Jill said. It was no surprise that her parents would get a divorce after 30 years of being together.
Meanwhile, Jill and Faith– only 18 months apart– were very close growing up. Jill said: “There was only one perfect marriage in our home, and it was between me and Faith.”
Jill Soloway’s brief taste of fame
In college, the sisters went into TV (Jill as a communications major) and theatre (Faith as a theatre major).
The two later co-created a show for the Chicago-based Annoyance Theatre called The Real Live Brady Brunch, which starred two then-unknown comedians named Andy Richter and Jane Lynch.
Gaining a little recognition from the show, the sisters wrote a pilot for HBO about a female superhero called Jewess Jones, but it didn’t pan out.
Afterward, Jill moved around a bit, wrote a bit, got stoned a lot, and then had a son with an artist named Johnny Base.
Jill Soloway writes for a living
Needing money as a single mother, she became a writer on The Steve Harvey Show before moving on to Nikki, a show about a Las Vegas showgirl that she said was “the worst sitcom in the world.”
When Alan Ball– creator of the drama series Six Feet Under— read one of her short stories, “Courtney Cox’s Asshole,” it convinced him to hire her to write for his show.
After working with Ball for four seasons until it ended in 2005, Jill went on to collaborate with Diablo Cody in another show, United States of Tara.
Unfortunately, Jill was fired after the show’s feminist vision didn’t gel with the network executives. From there it was all downhill.
She almost worked for HBO again but the project was given to Lena Dunham. Jill said: “People were, like, it’s you, but younger and better.”
Jill Soloway keeps bouncing back
From these failures, Jill went on to write and direct a film called Afternoon Delight.
The movie– about a bored, angsty mother named Rachel and a 19-year old hooker named McKenna– scored her a Best Director plum at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.
It was around the same time that her father announced he was a transgender woman with the name of Carrie. Suffice it to say, the sisters were really confused.
“When I look at Afternoon Delight now, and Rachel making a space for McKenna in the house, it’s, like, was I writing a yearning for Carrie to come out?” Jill said.
Sorting out her feelings, Jill created the show Transparent for her father. The show was picked up by Amazon Studios in 2014, and went on to win awards.
When Soloway won an Emmy in 2015, she thanked her “Moppa”– a term of endearment which was a combination of “mom” and “poppa”– for coming out.