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Groundbreaking TV Producer Soloway Named Semel Chair in Screenwriting

Award-winning television writer/producer Jill Soloway, creator of the groundbreaking Amazon series Transparent, will arrive on the campus of Emerson Los Angeles in January as the College’s Semel Chair in Screenwriting for Spring 2017.

The Semel Chair is a working screenwriter who conducts a master class and writing workshop for students in Emerson’s low-residency MFA in Writing for Film and Television program. During the weeklong residency, the College offers a screening of the Chair’s work, followed by a Q&A open to the entire Emerson community.

“We are thrilled to have Jill Soloway as the January 2017 Semel Chair for the low-residency MFA in Writing Film and Television,” said Jean Stawarz, program director and associate professor in the Visual and Media Arts Department. “Her work in film and television is groundbreaking and our students will benefit greatly from her experience.”

Soloway’s Transparent, a comedy centered around a transgender woman (Jeffrey Tambor) and her complicated family, has received two Golden Globe Awards and eight Emmys, including two for Soloway’s direction. Production is underway on her latest series, I Love Dick, also on Amazon, adapted from the Chris Kraus novel. It stars Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon, and will premiere in Spring 2017.

In 2002, Soloway joined the writing team of HBO’s Six Feet Under, where she rose to be the series’ co-executive producer. She also became producer/showrunner for the second season of Showtime’s critically acclaimed United States of Tara in 2010. Soloway’s first feature film, Afternoon Delight, won the 2013 Directing Award at Sundance.

Last year, Soloway founded Topple, a media brand/production company/movement that aims to “shift the gaze” and tip the balance in media toward women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and their allies.

Students in the low-residency MFA program spend two weeks per year on an Emerson campus—one week in Boston in August and one week in LA in January—where they learn from the Semel Chairs. The rest of the 40-credit program is conducted online.

Previous Semel Chairs in Screenwriting include Sarah Kernochan, writer of Learning to Drive, starring Sir Ben Kingsley, and 9 ½ Weeks; Jim Taylor, Academy Award-winning writer of Sideways; and David Magee, whose screen adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi was nominated for an Oscar.

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