There are some real gems throughout The Hollywood Reporter’s new cover story on Jenji Kohan, the Orange is the New Black showrunner with hair painted with all the colors of the wind: she knew she’d be using the beautiful, blonde Piper as a “Trojan Horse” to get to a show filled with characters across all gender, sexuality and ethnic lines; she gave birth to her youngest child the night that Weeds premiered, meaning she accomplished more in one evening than I have in all my years on this planet; she goes in for the rainbow hair to hide her grays because she believes, per her mom’s guidance, “If you can’t fix it, decorate it,”; and she and notoriously difficult Mad Men king Matthew Weiner are close, personal friends.
I wouldn’t call Kohan surprisingly candid, because anyone familiar with her work knows there’s nothing surprising about her willingness to be candid. But, more than once in her interview, Kohan directly addresses the issue of gender inequity in Hollywood:
“But when the married mother of three redirects a discussion about her recent success to one about the inequities in pay between her and her male counterparts in the business — she says in no uncertain terms, ‘It sucks. … We all want our fuck you money’ — you glimpse the essential truth about Kohan: No matter how much ground she’s gained, she’s still itching for a fight.”
Later in the story, she comes back to the issue, referencing Weiner by name:
“Gender inequality has been a thorn in Kohan’s side since she was a young girl and her novelist mother told her that men were ‘funnier’ and ‘better at this.’ That Kohan’s own studio, Lionsgate, is paying Weiner a reported $30 million for Mad Men’s final three seasons adds another layer of complexity. ‘It’s hard when one of your best friends is Matt,’ she says, then carefully adds: ‘I don’t begrudge him for one second; it’s more of just, ‘Why am I not making that?’ ‘ (Lionsgate declined comment.)”
Preach, Jenji. Until women in positions of power — like Kohan, who helms a comedy that does not even air on television but still snagged a dozen Emmy nominations — raise a little (or a lot of) hell about pay disparities between men and women, nothing will change. I want my shot at that “fuck you money,” too. Don’t we all?