After being asked to write for Amazon Primeâ€™s number one TV show â€śTransparent,â€ť award-winning writer and poet Ali Liebegott left her teaching position at Mills to explore the world of Hollywood.
Before writing for “Transparent,” a TV show that explores the relationships within a family after the father comes out as transgender, Leibegott was writing books and teaching at Mills. In 2006 Liebegott won a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Lesbian Debut Fiction for her novel, “The Beautifully Worthless,”Â and the following yearÂ she won the Ferro-Gumley Award for LGBT literature for theÂ “IHOP Papers.”Â
Jill Soloway, the creator of “Transparent,” is an Emmy-nominated American comedian, and playwright, who won the Sundance best director awardÂ for the film she wrote and directed “Afternoon Delight.”Â When sheÂ asked Liebegott to consider writing a sample script for “Transparent,”Â Liebegott was thrilled. Â At the time the pilot had just been accepted by Amazon Prime.Â Liebegott found writing the script surprisingly rewarding.
â€śI really enjoyed it; a lot of the things that I really enjoy about writing novels are also in script writing,” Liebegott said. “I felt that it was going to be something that was really exciting for me.â€ťÂ
When Soloway accepted her script, Â Liebegott was teaching creative writing at Mills CollegeÂ and working at a grocery store andÂ living “hand to mouth.” She was alsoÂ tired of the gentrification that had taken over San Francisco with the tech boom. According to Liebegott,Â the time was right to try something new.Â
â€śThe last couple of years living in SFÂ wasnâ€™t easy. Things aligned in a new way to try something different,â€ťÂ Liebegott said.
While she enjoyed teaching, Liebegott never felt like it was her calling. During her time at Mills, LiebegottÂ wished she could be creating more. She never felt like she knew how to teach people to creatively write; instead, she found herself offering suggestions that had helped her and hoping that they might do some good for her students.
“Throughout my teaching career, I wondered Â how to be a professor,” Liebegott said.” I always wanted to be kind to people, and to share books that were meaningful and to share a philosophy on the world, but a far as telling someone what to write â€¦ it was always a little existential for me.â€ť Â
Students at Mills who were able to take a class with Liebegott remember her as being loose with her grading because trying to grade creative work was difficult, and Â trying to teach her students how to be sincere, and most importantly, being faithful toÂ their work.
“One of the things I remember being interesting about Ali is that she didn’t really put much emphasis on academias as far as writing went. She wanted us to be honest and authentic,” Junior Chloe Horsma said.
Although Mills had asked her to teach two moreÂ classes in the Spring of 2014, Liebegott declined, packed her life up and moved to Los Angeles.
While LiebgottÂ does prefer theÂ pronoun she/her, sheÂ identifies as gender neutral and felt that because of her experience being marginalized for her gender identity, she could help contribute to aÂ show that explores gender.Â
In September of 2014, Liebegott wrote about her experiences writing for ‘Transparent’ in a Quartz article.Â
â€śAs a butch who is constantly misgendered and regendered throughout the day by strangers,” Liebegott wrote, “I have some crossover with a trans experience especially when it comes to using public restrooms, navigating airports, getting wanded by security detail on entering a sporting event â€” soÂ I felt like I could use my experience to add to the conversation.â€ťÂ
Although Jill Soloway, the creator of â€śTransparent,â€ť is not trans herself, she became personally invested in the trans community after her father came out to her as transgender. In her piece inÂ Quartz, Liebegott says that Soloway told the writers for â€śTransparentâ€ť to think about what they had never seen on TV before and create that.
â€śIt isnâ€™t a show that spoon feeds the definition of trans to the audience. Instead, we present a spectrum of trans characters to choose from: a butch, a transman, two transwomen, and Maura, a transwoman at the beginning of her transition who may or may not â€śmedicallyâ€ť transition,”Â Liebegott wrote in Quartz.
Liebegott hopes to keep working in the film and TVÂ industry whileÂ continuing to pursue her own writing work. She enjoys the community that writing for TV creates and finds being on a team rewarding in comparison to working alone.Â
â€śWhen you work in TV, there are so many levels of collaboration,” Liebegott said. “People have considered every little tiny aspect of everything. It is kind of awesome to be working alongside so many people with this bigger vision.â€ť
When she is not writing for â€śTransparent,â€ť Liebegott is working to get the sequel to her first book published, exploring LA and walking in parks with her dog. She took aÂ stand-up comedy class and can be found at open mics performing a routine of her dog, complete with a full dog costume. She hopes to learn how to doÂ clay miniaturesÂ in the coming year. According to Liebegott, â€śPaddingtonâ€ť is the movie of the yearÂ and made her cry so hard she could barely drive home, and baseball season can not come soon enough.