How Lena Dunham is Launching an Empire for Comedic Women
April 21, 2015 - fall Denim
Lena Dunham needs to change her outfit. On a new Saturday afternoon, a star and executive producer of “Girls” slips out of a hip pantsuit from her Variety cover shoot, and dons a gentle jacket. The denim cloak is as colorful as Dunham herself, a behind arrayed with ’90s pop-culture icons (a Furby) and other dainty objects, like a span of women’s underwear with an radical punk saying, “No Masters,” in pinkish lettering. “I consider it’s my best conform garment,” she says, confiding that she purchased it from one of her Instagram followers. “You might notice it’s lonesome in assertive womanlike symbols. My beloved attempted to take it, and we was like, ‘Back off!’ ”
Dunham, 28, isn’t usually a face of “Girls,” she’s also an out-and-proud feminist — a trait upheld down from her mother, photographer Laurie Simmons — and a practitioner of “Lean In,” a Sheryl Sandberg mantra that suggests womanlike leaders should assistance other women arise adult in a workplace. “When there’s an attention abandoned of women, there’s a bent for women to feel like they have to strengthen their spot, like there’s not adequate room in city for both of us,” Dunham says. “We need to mangle that down and support any other, since as my father always says, ‘A rising waves rises all boats.’ ”
To assistance other women set sail, New Yorker Dunham and her co-showrunner Jenni Konner, along with “Girls” writer Ericka Naegle, have launched A Casual Romance, a Los Angeles-based production company that will rise projects for both TV and a bigscreen “to lift a round brazen on gender and sexuality in engaging ways,” Dunham says. “We wanted a place to maintain other artists.” Adds Konner: “The usually group around are masculine interns. Not on purpose. That’s a approach it worked out.”
The association is usually a year old, yet a offerings embody a documentary brief “It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise,” about a illustrator behind a “Eloise” children’s books; a stirring doc about dual tailors who tack suits for transgender clients; and a third documentary about transgender identity, a accurate theme of that hasn’t nonetheless been announced. There are also a handful of scripted array in development: one set in a 1960s edition world; another formed on a real-life ’80s womanlike film producer; a miniseries that takes place in a rehab facility; and a comedy blending from a life of Betty Halbreich, a Queen Bee of personal shoppers during Bergdorf Goodman. “I won’t play her,” Dunham jokes. “She’s 87.”
All of these TV projects are set adult during HBO. Michael Lombardo, a network’s boss of programming, has certainty that Lena Inc. will be around for a prolonged run. “She will be an critical voice for years to come,” he says.
Five years ago, HBO asked Dunham to emanate a array that would pronounce to her generation, with Konner in a coach role, and Judd Apatow as another executive producer. “She’s schooled faster than anyone I’ve met,” Konner says. Dunham explains that she’s improved now during delegating, expressing her ideas and multitasking to residence what seem like 3 million questions a day: “Our government impression changes and evolves, yet we always fun it’s flattering feminine, since we wish to make certain everybody is happy and fed.”
Like many everybody in Hollywood, Dunham is wakeful of a inconsistency of numbers when it comes to womanlike directors, writers and producers. “The statistics are flattering abysmal,” she says. “It’s a pursuit as women who have been given a certain volume of success and prominence to lift other women along with us.”
Dunham’s quasi-autobiographical 2010 indie film “Tiny Furniture,” that won a jury esteem during a SXSW Film Festival, launched her career. She skeleton to shortly lapse to directing films again, yet she’s not certain if she’ll expel herself as a star. “There are so many gifted womanlike actors who are not removing a jobs they deserve,” she says. “I would adore to be formulating tools for those actors rather than indispensably being that actor. But we never know. Maybe ‘Girls’ will end, and I’ll skip it so many I’ll unexpected be like, let’s relaunch ‘Two and a Half Men’ with me and Jon Cryer.”
Dunham has been building an sovereignty of womanlike empowerment that can do for comedy what Shonda Rhimes has finished for a procedural thriller. In fact, Dunham recently seemed on an partial of Rhimes’ “Scandal,” where she played an determined biographer in a wig. “The prop man gave me some of Olivia Pope’s job cards,” she says. Dunham spent dual years operative on her possess bestselling discourse “Not That Kind of Girl,” that she wrote on a set of “Girls” by unctuous divided to her trailer for a array of fake naps. The book was published final tumble by Random House. She’d like to finish a novel one day, and contributes essays to a New Yorker, where a new square (“Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz”) drew violence on a blogosphere and charges of anti-Semitism.
“People might not know we grew adult in a tight-knit Jewish family where Jew jokes were partial of a essential fiber of a communication,” says Dunham, a eldest daughter of dual artists. “My grandfather, might he rest in peace, used to tell some Jew jokes we will not share in these pages.”
In further to all her side jobs, Dunham is now feverishly operative on a fifth deteriorate of “Girls.” She suggested to Variety that when a uncover earnings subsequent year, a array will collect adult with Hannah after a burst in time. HBO has talked to Dunham and Konner about 6 seasons of “Girls,” yet it’s not transparent if a array will extend over that. “I consider America has a bent to lift shows past their due dates,” Dunham says. “I like a British indication — in and out.” She has suspicion a lot about Hannah’s predestine on a series, and even has an picture of a show’s final shot. “Will she be with anyone?” Dunham asks. “That’s a question. And how critical is it finale adult with someone, and is that a pen of success for a woman?”
If that sounds like a mainstay created by Carrie Bradshaw, Dunham admits she’s a “Sex and a City” groupie who has seen each episode. And like “SATC,” Dunham’s uncover could be streamer to a large shade after it wraps. But she wants to wait a decade before creation a “Girls” film (yes, it would still be called “Girls,” even with a 2027 recover date). “I have fantasies of us all entrance behind when we’re 40,” Dunham says. “We’d wish to wait prolonged adequate for something to have unequivocally left down.” When Lombardo hears about a plan, he lets out a laugh. “I’ll have to get business affairs operative on that,” he says. “I don’t know if we can reason adult people for that long.”
As a immature girl, Dunham drew impulse from a far-reaching operation of women artists. Her heterogeneous list includes Nora Ephron, Gilda Radner, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Kate Winslet and Sarah Jessica Parker. Of Parker, she says: “I was spooky with her since we saw ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ on Broadway. She was my passion. we printed out cinema of her from really early Internet, and stranded them all over a walls of my bedroom.”
She also worshipped Drew Barrymore. When she was 12, she auditioned to play a immature Beverly Donofrio (Barrymore played a impression grown up) in “Riding in Cars With Boys,” yet botched her possibility by revelation executive Penny Marshall she couldn’t grin on command. Her favorite TV shows were “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Rhoda,” and her best-loved cinema were “A League of Their Own” and a certain Jane Austen reconstitute starring Alicia Silverstone. “ ‘Clueless’ is a initial film that we saw that we had to watch 50 to 70 times,” Dunham says.
Unlike many actresses in their 20s, she has no problem regulating a f-word to report herself. “The initial time we identified as a feminist was substantially before carrying a mammary, since feminism is such a large partial of who my mom is,” Dunham says. She’s beheld that feminism has turn a unwashed tag among some millennial women. “I feel like immature women aren’t gentle with that word since they haven’t been scrupulously prepared about what it means,” she says. “They’ve been sent a summary that feminism is somehow unsexy, shrew-like women who feel like group should be nude of power. What they don’t know is that feminism is usually a approach to speak about equality.”
Even yet she’s an empowered woman, we won’t see Dunham behind a circle of a car. She’s been perplexing to get a driver’s license, yet she keeps unwell a test. “My driver’s ed clergyman pronounced not to compensate him until we passed, so we owe him 4 years of behind fees,” says Dunham, who lives in Brooklyn Heights yet is spending some-more time in California for work. “He could substantially buy a house.” How does she get around? “I take Uber everywhere,” Dunham says. “Or my bad put-upon partner has to expostulate me to a gynecologist.” Ewww. We so don’t wish to go there — unless this small TMI stage turns into an partial of “Girls.”