There is an awesome profile in the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter on Jenji Kohan, the creator and showrunner of Orange is the New Black. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Kohan has revolutionized television and that her show, way more than the conventional House of Cards, has changed our thinking about who can be TV stars. The self-described “strange, depressive, and chubby” — and might I add “brilliant” woman has widened our world, and I am grateful for that.
Kohan talks about how she did not have a mentor and describes her climb as “getting kicked down and climbing back up… like one of those inflatable punchy things.” Encouragingly, she talks about the importance of bringing in new voice to her writing staff so the next generation can have it a lot easier than she did.
Here’s the most interesting parts of the interview:
- She comes from a Hollywood sitcom-writing family. He dad wrote for The Carol Burnett Show and her brother created Will & Grace. Yet, she was told that men are the funny ones.
- She says “fuck” — a lot.
- Her best friend, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, is paid more than she is. (Both shows are produced by Lionsgate.)
- She doesn’t talk about how she balances work and family — she just does it. She’s got three kids.
- She and her husband, who she met at a kickball game(!), bought the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles and are remodeling it.
- Her first writing gig was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
- She lasted 13 episodes writing on Friends. After being fired, she took a trip to Nepal.
- She feels that Weeds never got its due, and when Showtime head Bob Greenblatt mistakenly CC’d her on an email about firing her, she emailed back, “Good luck with that.”
- She’s in a book club — and they are reading some intense books.
Read the whole piece here.