Jenji Kohan

Creator, Orange Is the New Black

Jenji Kohan
Taylor Shilling as Piper Chapman [Photo by Paul Schiraldi, Image Courtesy of Netflix]

For turning orange into gold.

Jenji Kohan’s women’s prison dramedy, Orange Is the New Black, became a breakout hit when it premiered on Netflix last summer. Now back for season 2, the show makes the most of its refreshingly diverse cast and sharp writing. Kohan, who previously created Showtime’s Weeds, walks us through her approach.

Jenji Kohan

Hire undervalued performers.

Orange’s team of female actors (including Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, and Lea DeLaria) are expanding ideas about what TV stars can be. That was intentional. “I love Los Angeles, but one side benefit of shooting in New York is casting. Here was this whole new pool of talent. It was an embarrassment of riches because I was looking for types that are underutilized.”

Make TV that you yourself want to watch.

Kohan doesn’t worry about pleasing everyone. “I’m entertaining myself and hoping other people find it funny. It’s just how I like to write. It’s really gratifying to do that and be recognized for it.”

Embrace the pressure.

Expectations were relatively low when the show first hit Netflix. Not anymore. “Is it stressful? No question about it. You brace yourself for a backlash, but all you can do is make the best show possible.”


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