Jill Soloway (born September 26, 1965) is an American comedian, writer and director. Soloway, who identifies as nonbinary and prefers singular they pronouns, 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.
Soloway was born in Chicago, Illinois, to public relations consultant, coach and writer, Elaine Soloway, and psychiatrist Dr. Harry J. Soloway, who grew up in London. Around 2011, Dr. Soloway came out as transgender.
Soloway's elder sister, Faith, is a Boston-based musician and performer with whom they sometimes collaborate. They both attended Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago. Jill Soloway graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a communications arts major.
Soloway's mother was formerly a press aide to Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and was a former communications director for School Superintendent Ruth Love. After 30 years, Soloway's parents divorced. Soloway has a stepfather named Tommy Madison.
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.
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.
With Maggie Rowe, Soloway co-created Hollywood Hellhouse and Sit n' Spin.
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.
Six Feet Under episodes
- "Back to the Garden" (2002)
- "I'll Take You" (2002)
- "Making Love Work" (2003)
- "I'm Sorry, I'm Lost" (2003)
- "Parallel Play" (2004)
- "The Black Forest" (2004), with Craig Wright
- "The Rainbow of Her Reasons" (2005)
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. 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. They were inspired by their parent who came out as transgender. 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. The pilot for Transparent was picked up by Amazon Studios.
As part of the making of the show, Soloway enacted a "transfirmative action program", whereby transgender applicants were hired in preference to nontransgender ones. As of August 2014, over eighty transgender people have worked on the show, including two transgender consultants. All the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral.
In August 2016, Amazon premiered a Soloway-directed pilot of I Love Dick, based on the novel by the same name by Chris Kraus. It was later picked up for a full season, which premiered on May 12, 2017.
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.
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.
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."
At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Soloway received the Directing Award (United States, Drama) for their first film, the 2013 comedy-drama Afternoon Delight. They have three Emmy nominations. Soloway is also a member of the board of the San Francisco Film Society.
In 2015, Soloway's show Transparent won a Golden Globe for Best Series - Musical or Comedy. 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. Also in 2015, they were named as one of The Forward 50. In 2016, they won another Emmy for directing episode 2.09 (" Man on the Land") of Transparent. Also in 2016, they were a finalist for The Advocate's Person of the Year.
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, also known as Johnny Base. 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; their romantic relationship has since ended, and they held an event at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in which they "processed [their] relationship onstage."
- Soloway is a strong supporter of feminism.
- Co-founded the website Wifey.tv.
- Co-founded the East Side Jews collective, which is funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
- They co-wrote The Thanksgiving Paris Manifesto with Eileen Myles in 2016.