Jenji Kohan, the mastermind who brought us "Weeds," is back with a new show -- "Orange Is The New Black." The Netflix series, based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name, follows a privileged woman who finds herself in a federal prison due to her relationship with a drug runner.
As Christina Radish at Collider reported, Kohan spoke out about the difficulty of getting studios to accept more diverse projects during press events for the series last week:
I don’t set out to write female lead shows, necessarily. I like deeply flawed characters. When they come to me, or when I’m introduced to them, I follow the stories and the people, rather than setting out to do a female lead thing… And when I read Piper Kerman’s book, I thought, “This is a way into a really interesting world. It’s the yuppie’s eye view to get you in there.” If you go to a network and say, “I wanna do prison stories about black women and Latino women and old women,” you’re not gonna make a sale. But, if you’ve got this blonde girl going to prison, you can get in there, and then you can tell all the stories. I just thought it was a terrific gateway drug into all the things I wanted to get into.
Kohan also explained her personal investment in telling the stories of women of color, who are not often portrayed with complexity on the big or small screens:
Even during the casting process, the pools of talent are so deep when you have a call for Latin women or black women or a middle-aged woman because they never get their shot. There’s so much talent there… There were so many people who were just waiting for something like this.
"Orange Is The New Black" debuts on Netflix on July 11 -- we'll definitely be watching.