Here's what it's like to land your first writing job on Orange Is The New Black:
It was January, 2013, and I’d disappeared from work for a few hours to interview for Jenji Kohan’s new show, “Orange Is the New Black,” based on a memoir of the same title. I read it twice in preparation for my meeting (the title of this essay isn’t “The Coolest Girl In the World,” okay, guys?) My brain short-circuited for a second while it processed that Jenji was asking me if I’d been molested. I wasn’t, but something about the way she asked implied a genuine, nonjudgmental interest in my life, and suddenly it felt safe, even desirable, to be flawed. I found myself offering up all the secrets I had, the experiences that had led me to sit across from her that day. It’s one of the million things that makes Jenji so fucking good at what she does—she embraces the narrative of your life like it’s a precious jewel—something to display proudly and marvel at, rather than hide and feel ashamed about.
I couldn’t blame her for assuming I had a traumatic past. She’d read a particularly dark, weird pilot I’d written that featured something my agent often refers to as a “rape dance.” It’s perhaps not surprising that this was my first staffing meeting, despite having landed said agent a year prior. Shockingly, there weren’t a lot of people that responded to what Jenji called “oddly sexual.” But, she took a chance on me. In Jenji and the other writers on the show, I found an acceptance that had alluded me since I made the unfortunate decision in fourth grade to wear a shirt embroidered with my initials and one of my vintage top hats to school (yes, one of).
Six months after starting work on the show, I flew to New York to oversee production on my first episode of television. If you think you’ve had really good sex, you should try watching someone say words you wrote on camera. On one of our last days of shooting, I stood in front of the monitors watching 75 women stand in a circle, dancing and yelling while two women humped each other. Taylor Schilling, who plays Piper on the show, had hung around to watch the chaos. She leaned over to me during a take and said, “When have you ever seen this many women on screen together?” In that moment I realized we were doing something really special.
I'll be over here in the corner, not rabidly jealous or anything.