From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

'Transparent' Creator Jill Soloway on the Arts and Civil Rights

The creator of the hit Amazon series speaks about how art encourages empathy in everyone.


The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs Wrote the Book (Literally)


The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs Wrote the Book (Literally)

With the publication of her debut novel, the musician sings the praises of trying...

Architecting the Future


Architecting the Future

Visionary architect Bjarke Ingels on the ever-nearing shape of tomorrow.

Mikhail Baryshnikov Imagines a New Future for Artists


Mikhail Baryshnikov Imagines a New Future for Artists

The multihyphenate performer, whose name is synonymous with dance, allows artists...

I think the biggest thing standing in the way of tolerance is when people say, “I don’t know anyone who is black or transgender or queer.” What television does is bring those kinds of people right into your living room. Roger Ebert called filmmaking an “empathy machine.” The very technology of story is that it takes a viewer and puts them in the body and the seat of another person, what they’re feeling, their ups and downs and challenges.

You don’t have to be Jewish or trans to connect with Transparent. The total shock and upside to writing a show based on my family’s story was that people all over the country and all over the planet enjoyed it. And because they enjoyed it, it might be able to have some effect on civil and human rights. A lot of people feel that politics follows public opinion. So when you change the way that people feel about something, you are changing the culture, and the culture can lead in terms of laws and policy.

You can write a million pamphlets about trans people, and you can write books about what it means to be trans, but when you watch one scene with Maura (Jeffrey Tambor’s character) and feel your way to an emotion aligning with Maura, you can be transformed. Art is being present to an unfolding story about somebody’s soul. I think art is not just a thing that can save us, but it’s the thing. —As told to Rachel Hurn

Discover more stories about how the arts are changing the world.

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