Lena Dunham

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Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham TFF 2012 Shankbone 3.JPG
Dunham at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Supporting Characters
Born (1986-05-13) May 13, 1986 (age 28)[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Oberlin College (BA)
Occupation Actress, writer, director and producer
Years active 2006–present
Parents Carroll Dunham
Laurie Simmons
Relatives Grace Dunham (sister)
Golden Globe Awards
Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
2013 Girls
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy

Lena Dunham (/ˈlinə ˈdʌnəm/ LEE-nə DUN-um; born May 13, 1986) is an American actress, author, screenwriter, producer, and director.[2] She wrote and directed the independent film Tiny Furniture (2010), and is the creator, writer and star of the HBO series Girls. She has received eight nominations for Emmy Awards as a writer, director, actress and producer and won two Golden Globe Awards for Girls. Dunham is the first woman to win a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series.

Early life

Dunham was born in New York City.[3] Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter, and her mother, Laurie Simmons, is an artist and photographer, and a member of the Pictures group, known for her use of dolls and doll-house furniture in her photographs of setup interior scenes.[4][5] Dunham has described herself as feeling "very culturally Jewish, although that's the biggest cliché for a Jewish woman to say”; her father is Protestant, and her mother is Jewish.[6][7]

She has a younger sister, Grace, a 2014 graduate of Brown University, who appeared in Dunham's first film, Creative Nonfiction, and starred in her second film, Tiny Furniture.[8] The sisters were raised in Brooklyn, New York and spent summers in Salisbury, Connecticut.[9]

Dunham attended Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, where she met Tiny Furniture actress and Girls co-star Jemima Kirke.[10][11] She graduated in 2008 from Oberlin College, where she studied creative writing.[12]


Dunham's 2010 feature film Tiny Furniture won Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest Music and Media Conference, and subsequently screened at such festivals as Maryland Film Festival.[13] Dunham plays the lead role of Aura.[5] Laurie Simmons (Lena Dunham's real-life mother) plays Aura's mother, and Lena's real-life sister Grace plays Aura's on-screen sister.

Dunham's television series Girls was greenlit by HBO in early 2012.[14] Judd Apatow is the executive producer.[15] Three episodes were screened to positive response at the 2012 South by Southwest Festival.[16] The first season premiered April 15, 2012, and has garnered Dunham four Emmy nominations for her roles in acting, writing, and directing the series and two Golden Globe wins for Best Comedy Series for Girls and for herself in Best Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical Series. In February 2013, she became the first woman to win a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series for her work on Girls.[17] In January 2015, Girls was renewed for a fifth season.[18]

In fall of 2012, Dunham appeared in a video advertisement promoting President Barack Obama's re-election, delivering a monologue, which, according to a blog quoted in The Atlantic, tried to "get the youth vote by comparing voting for the first time to having sex for the first time".[19] Fox News reported "intense criticism" from multiple media sources, who labeled the advertisement as "tasteless and inappropriate", but added that "not everyone was so offended".[20] In The Nation, Ari Melber wrote "the ad’s style is vintage Lena: edgy and informed, controversial but achingly self-aware, sexually proud and affirmatively feminist."[21]

In February 2014, Dunham was named the Recipient of Horizon Award 2014 by Point Foundation for her support to the gay community.[22] She hosted Saturday Night Live on March 8, 2014 with musical guest The National.[23] On February 20, 2015, it was reported that Dunham had been cast in a currently unknown guest role in an episode of the ABC drama series Scandal.[24]

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"

On October 8, 2012, Dunham signed a $3.5 million deal with Random House to publish her first book.[25] Published in September 2014, the essay collection was entitled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned".[26][27] She dedicated the foreword of the book to Nora Ephron, who had died earlier that year.[27]

In the book, Dunham recounted a party where she is "alone, drunk and high on Xanax and cocaine."[28] She details an allegedly unwanted sexual encounter with a mustachioed Oberlin College Republican named Barry, whose name was never referred to as a pseudonym until December 9, 2014, when Dunham stated "Barry" was a pseudonym.[29]

Aaron Minc, a lawyer for a man named Barry (later called "Barry One"), who bore a resemblance to the man named by Dunham, described it as "detailed enough to cast a pall over a former student who has had to defend himself against Dunham's accusation that he raped her", according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Barry One" set up a legal fund online to pursue legal action against Dunham and her publisher.[30] "Barry One"'s counsel stated that 'Despite multiple requests ... Dunham has not issued any sort of statement clearing Barry's name and clarifying the confusion that is happening.'”[31] On December 9, 2014, Dunham stated "Barry" was a pseudonym. Minc said that as part of an agreement Random House, the publisher of the book, will add a disclaimer to explain that the name "Barry" was a pseudonym.[32] Journalist and author Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote that Dunham's book accused "an easily identifiable student on campus of rape without any fact checkers or lawyers flagging the passage."[33][undue weight? ]

In the same book, Dunham describes instances of sexual or quasi-sexual activitiy with her sister Grace, including genital play when Lena was 7 and Grace was 1, which was categorized by a conservative website as "sexual abuse". [34][35] On the issue of whether Dunham's behavior was "sexually reactive", David Finkelhor, a sociologist who has done extensive research into child sexual abuse, said "a judgment would typically require more than a single episode, especially in younger children who may not be aware of norms." Psychologist Sharon Lamb also opined that the incidents described in the book were "within the norms of childhood sexual behavior," and that “It wouldn’t be sex offender wrong, it would be inappropriate.”[36] Dunham later apologized for some of the wording in the book, saying, “I am also aware that the comic use of the term 'sexual predator' was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.”[37][38]

She responded to this controversy by saying, "I don't care what conservative white men think about me."[39] She went on to refer to these critics as members of the "enemy party".[39]

Personal life

In 2012, Dunham began dating Jack Antonoff, lead guitarist of the band Fun. and the sole member of Bleachers.[40] She stated that she will not get married until same-sex marriage is legalized.[41]

Dunham was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder as a child, and continues to take a low dose of an antidepressant to relieve her anxiety.[42][43]

In a January 2015 interview, at the Golden Globes Awards ceremony, Dunham said that she had removed the Twitter social media app from her handset, due to personal attacks; however, she added that she continues to use the platform "occasionally."[44]


Film credits
Year Title Role Notes
2006 Dealing Georgia Short film
Also writer, director
2007 Una & Jacques Video short
2009 The House of the Devil 911 Operator Voice
2009 Creative Nonfiction Ella Also writer, director, editor
2009 The Viewer Voice Short film
2009 Family Tree Lena Short film
2010 Gabi on the Roof in July Colby
2010 Tiny Furniture Aura Also director, writer
2011 The Innkeepers Barista
2012 Nobody Walks Also co-writer
2012 Supporting Characters Alexa
2012 This Is 40 Cat
2014 Happy Christmas Carson
Television credits
Year Title Role Notes
2007 Tight Shots Main role
Also writer, director, editor
2009 Delusional Downtown Divas Oona Main role
Also writer, director, producer
2012–present Girls Hannah Horvath Main role
Also creator, director, writer, executive producer
2014 Adventure Time Betty "Betty" (Season 5, Episode 48)
2014 Saturday Night Live Host "Lena Dunham/The National" (Season 39, Episode 15)
2015 Scandal TBA

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2010 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Tiny Furniture Nominated
Breakthrough Director Award Nominated
2011 Independent Spirit Awards Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay Won
2012 Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series Girls Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
2013 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Won
Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Won
Gracie Allen Awards Outstanding Director – Entertainment Series or Special Won
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Nominated
2014 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2015 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated

Published works


  1. ^ "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly (1259). May 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Lena Dunham's Big Dreams Rest On 'Tiny Furniture'", NPR.org, December 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Lena Dunham profile". Argotistonline.co.uk. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Walker, Tim (October 6, 2012). "Lena Dunham: Could she be the voice of a generation?". The Independent (London, UK). Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Mead, Rebecca (November 15, 2010). "Downtown's Daughter". The New Yorker (Condé Nast): 38–45. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ "'Girls' writer lays bare women's insecurities". Jewish Journal. April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ Silverstein, Melissa (November 12, 2010). "Interview with Lena Dunham – Writer/Director of Tiny Furniture". Women & Hollywood. Womenandhollywood.com. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ Howard, Caroline (November 12, 2010). "Names You Need to Know in 2011: Lena Dunham", forbes.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
  9. ^ Browne, Alix (November 4, 2011). "Living Large". Tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ Simpson, Leah (April 2, 2013). "Lena Dunham shares ANOTHER steamy lesbian kiss with co-star Jemima Kirke - Mail Online". Daily Mail (London, UK). Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  11. ^ Sykes, Plum (January 15, 2014). "Child's Play: Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke's First Appearance in Vogue". Vogue. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ Tiny Furniture cast and crew. TinyFurniture.com.
  13. ^ Maura, Sophie. "Lena Dunham Profile – Filmmaker", Marieclaire.com; retrieved February 8, 2011
  14. ^ "Lena Dunham's Show 'Girls' Picked Up By HBO". Huffington Post. January 7, 2011.
  15. ^ Alexis, Nadeska. "Lena Dunham's ‘Girls’ Picked Up by HBO", BlackBookmag.com, January 7, 2011; retrieved February 8, 2011.
  16. ^ Nussbaum, Emily. "It's Different for 'Girls'", nymag.com, April 1, 2012.
  17. ^ "Lena Dunham ('Girls') makes DGA history as first female to win Best TV Comedy Director". Goldderby.com. February 3, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  18. ^ Girls renewed for fifth season, variety.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
  19. ^ Franke-Ruta, Garance (October 25, 2012). [http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/lena-dunhams-new-obama-ad-as-controversial-as-everything-she-does/264139 "Lena Dunham's New Obama Ad—As Controversial As Everything She Does?", TheAtlantic.com; accessed February 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "Critics blast Obama campaign for new ad that likens voting for Barack Obama to a young woman losing her virginity". Fox News Channel. October 25, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012. 
  21. ^ [1], theNation.com; accessed February 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "Actress Lena Dunham named Winner of Horizon Award 2014". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Ng, Philiana (February 25, 2014). "'Girls' Star Lena Dunham to Host 'SNL'", hollywoodreporter.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
  24. ^ Weinstein, Shelli. "Lena Dunham To Guest Star on 'Scandal'". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Bosman, Julie. "Lena Dunham Signs Book Deal for More Than $3.5 Million", The New York Times, October 8, 2012
  26. ^ Daum, Meghan (September 10, 2014). "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Lena Dunham Dedicates Book Foreword To Nora Ephron". W.E.N.N. September 30, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  28. ^ http://time.com/3445018/lena-dunham-not-that-kind-of-girl-rape-essay/
  29. ^ "Lena Dunham breaks silence...", dailymail.co.uk; accessed February 9, 2015.
  30. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (December 7, 2014). "Lena Dunham: 'Barry One' starts legal fund to fight actress' rape claim". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 9, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Barry One" starts legal fund to fight Lena Dunham claims", washingtontimes.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
  32. ^ Publisher to alter Lena Dunham book, hollywoodreporter.com; accessed February 9, 2015.
  33. ^ "Columbia mattress case is not justice, it's shaming without proof", nypost.com, February 8, 2015; accessed February 22, 2015.
  34. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (November 6, 2014). "Lena Dunham: Sexual abuse or sexual exploration?". USA Today (Gannett). Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  35. ^ Williamson, Devin (October 29, 2014). "Pathetic Privilege". National Review. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "Child therapists: Stop freaking out about Lena Dunham". Salon (November 4, 2014). Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  37. ^ D'Zurilla, Christine (November 4, 2014). "Lena Dunham apologizes for her 'comic use' of 'sexual predator'". Los Angeles Times. 
  38. ^ Rothman, Michael (November 4, 2014). "Lena Dunham Apologizes for 'Sexual Predator' Section in Her Book". Good Morning America. ABC News. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  39. ^ a b "Lena Dunham: I don't care what conservative white men think about me". October 29, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Girls' Lena Dunham Is Dating Fun.'s Jack Antonoff", usmagazine.com, September 5, 2012.
  41. ^ Migdol, Erin (January 14, 2014). "Lena Dunham Boyfriend: 'Girls' Star Won't Marry Until Gay Marriage Is Legal". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  42. ^ Suval, Lauren. "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Media". Psychcentral.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  43. ^ Daum, Meghan (September 10, 2014). "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  44. ^ Elizabeth Vanmetre (January 12, 2015). "Lena Dunham says she deleted Twitter app off her phone for 'emotional health'". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 13, 2015. 

External links