The comedienne tells TheWrap how "West Memphis 3" and "Oz" inspired the show
Some people love westerns. Some love vampire tales. Margaret Cho loves watching movies about women in prison.
So when Cho, the Emmy-nominated comedienne, activist and actress, decided to make her first web series, she made it about three women fresh out of jail. Executive produced by Cho, co-star Selene Luna and reality TV veteran Rico Martinez , "In Transition" debuts Wednesday on Cho's YouTube channel. Cho stars alongside Luna in the show, which was co-written by Martinez and John Stapleton and will run for 13 episodes.
In Atlanta shooting new episodes of "Drop Dead Diva," Cho talked with TheWrap about her own history helping people adjust to life after prison. TheWrap also has an exclusive first look at the premiere episode.
TheWrap: How did this show come about?
Margaret Cho: I was writing and thinking about women in prison, which is my favorite genre of movie. There have been a couple of TV series along those lines, and a new one called "Orange is the New Black." I love that show "Oz" and Lee Tergesen, who played Tobis. The guy who probably got raped the most is my favorite.
That might be a first. What is it about that genre that appeals to you?
Everyone is on the same level in prison – in a way. But there are also strict hierarchies there. When you try to reemerge back into life outside of prison, you're trying to deal with all the different levels people are at. You're a fish out of water. It’s about 'how do we cope with going back into a family' and going from a place of power and lessness.
Is this something you’ve seen first hand?
I've worked with people on death row. I worked with Damien Echols for a long time on his first book. He was one of the West Memphis 3 and I know all those guys. They were released after more than 20 years in prison but they were innocent. Damien's been able to make that transition really beautifully.
I’ve worked in different capacities with people that got into prison really young and then had to come out later and develop as an adult. I’ve seen it from a few different vantage points.
As someone who has a role on a TV show and has an active stand-up career, why did you want to create a web series?
I've been involved with web series but never done my own. There's one I just did with Gale Waters-Waters that was so funny. I've done a lot of music videos and videos with Liam Sullivan, who was one of the first big people on YouTube.
I wanted to do a web series with my friends that I could do easily with a lot of improvisation. Something that's silly and fun but dark and grotesque in its own way.
If you can do something on the web, you don’t have to go to a big organized effort with studios and multiple people having a say in story. It’s much easier to have clear creative direction and do what you want.
You recently made a deal with Maker Studios. Did you shoot this show before that and then sign with Maker or sign with Maker and then make the show?
I shot it last year and then became interested in building a relationship with Maker after. I would love to make another season of this particular series. Everyone in the series is my friend and I never get to see them because they are people who are always working. I would also love to do more with Maker. They are doing a lot of things I really like and it’s a really good social outlet.
How else are you going to use the social nature of YouTube to promote the show and interact with fans. You're going to do a Google Hangout after every show, right?
I have more of a presence on Twitter now and that is just another way to extend that. I want to have more of a relationship with people to promote the show and promote other projects. I'm going on tour and it's pretty global so this is a good way to launch that. It's a way to do something different.
I never really understood the power of social media until I got involved with it.
Watch TheWrap's exclusive look at 'In Nation's' full premiere episode: