Everyday, audiences are emotionally touched, entertained, and excited for the products the Film and Television industry provide us with. We become so invested in the story and characters, that we, more than often, forget the people who work behind the scenes to bring the on-screen magic to life. However, as magic and liberal these industries may seem on screen, off screen there is an inequality amongst men and women, and people of color when it comes to higher positions. Women of color are especially misrepresented. For the next few weeks I want to spotlight 10 women who are making moves, creating their own success and ultimately changing the look of the industry.
Jenji Kohan is an American Television writer, producer and director. Her father was an Emmy Award-winning writer and her brother was and Emmy Award-winning producer, so this industry was not a new thing for Kohan. Because she was born into such a family, Jenji Kohan is not someone who would be particularly spotlighted. However, as a woman, Kohan took on a pivotal role for her career when she created the show Weeds. On, Weeds, Kohan is credited for creating, writing and producing the show. It was a big hit on HBO that tackled a topic that most networks hadn’t seen before. The show in its entirety was about a widow, straight out of suburbia, selling marijuana to provide for her children. This was a revolutionary idea, with a strong female lead that led to provide 8 seasons worth of materiel.
Kohan’s premise was not the only notable aspect of the show. She had a colorful cast of characters, especially when the shows plot was taking place in Mexico dealing with the cartels. Kohan’s liking to have a colorful cast is shown on her most recent series Orange is the New Black. Orange follows a white woman who gets herself into trouble and ends up in jail. Here we are immersed into the lives the women in jail have had to create in order to survive their world in and out of the bars. The cast is as colorful as a real prison would be: Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics in stereotypical cliques.
Kohan has expressed that woman of color have fascinating stories that need to be told. However, she recognizes that currently networks could not/ will not pick up shows that have a woman of color as the lead because the target demographic “cannot relate” to these woman. Kohan, has found a loophole however and by throwing this “relatable” middle class white woman into the world where women of color aren’t the minority, she is able to tell their stories, while being picked up by networks and grabbing multiple demographics.
Jenji Kohan is not only a very successful woman in the industry, but she is also a smart and respectable, for recognizing the flaw in the system and creating a way around it to get the stories she sees as fascinating told.