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Emmy Award Winner Jill Soloway on When She Realized What Directing Was

67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Relaxing on an undulating water mattress, snuggling with her Emmy trophy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Transparent creator Jill Soloway raises her feet and observes her comfy Birkenstocks, noting they are probably much safer for the water bed than the shoes she wore to the ceremony. “Birkenstocks are really making a comeback,” she points out, while a man wearing a tuxedo does laps in the pool, holding his glass of Champagne aloft, at the Amazon post-Emmys party Sunday night. Around Soloway the scene is decadent, celebratory — this has been a big night for Amazon, and it’s largely thanks to her. Reflecting on her career so far, she recalls a moment on the set of Afternoon Delight. “Five days into shooting, I was watching Kathryn [Hahn] and Juno [Temple] doing the scene, and I finally got what directing was. I was feeling things, coming up with new ideas, and adjusting the scene based on the relationship between what they were doing and my feelings. I was playing the director in the same way the two actors play with each other. I went to the monitor and saw how I was changing their performance with my emotions … That’s when I realize what directing was.”

Transparent, whose charged and deeply personal subject matter Soloway categorizes as “sad comedy,” is one of those shows that transcends entertainment and occupies the political space. “Sometimes culture starts and then politics follow,” she says, adding that her intention was never to write a show that was political in nature. “Really, I was trying to write a love letter to my moppa [on whom Jeffrey Tambor’s character is based] that would make the world a little bit easier for her to hail a taxi or stand in an elevator with strangers.” Next to Soloway in the pool was Hari Nef, a 22-year-old transgender model, writer, and actress, set to star in the next season of Transparent. Lying on her back on a water bed, she scrolled through the Getty Pictures site, landing on a photo of herself and Soloway. “They got my name wrong!” she exclaimed. “Don’t’ worry,” said Jill. “They’re going to figure out who you are, girl.”

Jill Soloway on Realizing What Directing Was