Our Lady J Q&A: ‘Transparent’ writer-producer
“We were two months into writing when the election happened and we thought we would have to scrap everything and start over,” explains “Transparent” writer-producer Our Lady J on the shock that was felt by the political earthquake of Donald Trump being elected U.S. President. “But instead of scrapping everything and starting over, we let it become the tone of the season, a really agitated tone where the characters are just wandering around like everyone is right now. We were awestruck that such a change could happen in our country when we thought we were really moving forward.”
Prior to coming on board the Amazon series as a writer and story editor in season two, Lady J was mainly known for her musical talents as a pianist, composer and singer. She described the leap from music to television writing as a huge leap of faith that was relied on “having faith in [series creator] Jill Soloway, and it’s a leap I’m really glad I took.”
After season one Soloway took the initiative to have trans people working on the show as writers and reached out to Lady J. “I had done a lot of short stories, theater, musical theater and opera but never TV,” she says. “She brought me to a workshop with five other trans women where we recreated a writer’s room and wrote a pilot. After that, she asked me to join the staff.”
The series has been a big success at the Emmys over the past few years. For the past two years the show has claimed the prizes for Best Comedy Actor for Jeffrey Tambor’s performance as Maura Pfefferman and Best Comedy Directing for Soloway. In 2015 the show also prevailed for Best Comedy Guest Actor (Bradley Whitford).
Lady J also discusses how the environment of having many trans people working behind the camera made her realize “how lacking I was before coming into this environment.” Before transitioning in 2005, her career was very promising in the classical music and musical theater world. But after transitioning the work offers stopped coming in. “I had learned to keep that part of myself quiet and to enter a new space where not only was it accepted that I was trans but my story and identity were the subject matters of the show, it was just such a huge relief. I didn’t realize the low-level depression I had from just being stifled as an artist and as a human being.”