Transparent’s Jill Soloway: 50% Women, 50% Men in Hollywood by 2020
Jill Soloway, creator and executive producer of “Transparent,” said that by 2020, they want Hollywood to be 50% women, 50% men. That includes the TV and movie writers, department heads, directors, showrunners, and board members.
“The challenge part is if they can’t do it by 2020, then they have to tell us why,” Soloway said. “Let’s start the conversation. What happens when you begin to replace people? I think that’s a hard question.”
Soloway (who is not gender conforming, and prefers to go by the “they” pronoun) laid out their 50/50 dream on a Vulture Festival LA panel on Saturday, Nov. 18. They were accompanied by Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing.
Soloway, who stated “topple the patriarchy” when they won an Emmy, and Waithe, who plays Denise on “Master of None,” discussed what they would do if they were co-mayors of Hollywood.
Waithe said she wished there was a mandate that no show could be funded without making sure the writer’s room was a reflection of society. It’s too late to ask the people in power in Hollywood to hire diverse writers; you have to tell them. “You can’t just ask the oppressor to stop oppressing the oppressed,” she said. “You have to demand.”
To highlight exactly why their 50/50 mandate is necessary, Soloway talked about what they see when they flip through the New York Times, and all the holiday films are made by men. Or when they look at the awards-season picks, which are also male-dominated. And don’t even get them started on network late-night TV, which doesn’t feature one woman host, and mostly hires male writers.
Waithe and Soloway also got into the sexual harassment cases emerging in Hollywood against Harvey Weinstein and a number of actors. One of those accused, Jeffrey Tambor, is the star of Soloway’s “Transparent.” Soloway said that they could not discuss the ongoing investigation, which was brought about when guest star Trace Lysette remarked that Tambor made explicit comments to her and acted inappropriately.
When commenting on the current climate, Waithe said, “When villains get taken down you feel excited but sometimes heroes get taken down as well. It’s a weird thing when someone you admire or look up to, they take off the mask… I’ve always believed that Hollywood is a reflection of society. What is happening now is a mirror to society. Racism, sexism… these are monsters under the bed we can’t ignore. We have to turn on a light and look at them.”
Soloway said that right now, we are experiencing a moral awakening. “A lot of actresses are like ‘It’s my job to be moved around the set and be seen by the male gaze.’ A man is projecting his idealized [femininity] onto the actress.”
Part of the problem, Soloway said, is that white men are only giving jobs to white men who are exactly like them. All the power is within one segment of society.
“It’s immoral when you have that much privilege because you’re hoarding more opportunities for people like you,” Soloway said. “I hope over the next few years it will feel immoral.”