Lena Dunham has admitted that her career took off with ease because of her white privilege.
The actress was 23 years old when she was snapped up to write Girls for HBO, despite her pitch to the channel being a page and a half long, without a plot.
And after the tale of how she got her show commissioned began circulating again, Lena, now 34, has addressed how Hollywood is ‘rigged in favour of white people’.
A 2017 tweet linking to an article from The Hollywood Reporter began circulating on social media, the post reading: ‘@LenaDunham was 23 when she sold #Girls to HBO with a page-and-a-half-long pitch, without a character nor a plot.’
Lena began trending as people expressed their disbelief that it was so easy for her to be handed a TV deal – and the star decided to address the controversy.
The Girls star tweeted: ‘Whenever I find out I’m trending, I have to immediately check if I’m alive! Then, I try and see if there’s a constructive dialogue to have on Twitter. Often there isn’t, but today there really WAS.
‘It actually wasn’t a dialogue – it was just me agreeing that the Hollywood system is rigged in favor of white people and that my career took off at a young age with relative ease, ease I wasn’t able to recognize because I also didn’t know what privilege was [sic].
‘The past ten years have been a series of lessons. The lesson now? Sit down. Shut up, unless it’s to advocate for change for Black people. Listen. Make art in private for awhile- no one needs your book right now lady. Give reparations widely. Defund the police. Rinse & repeat.’
Dunham went on to address the original tweet that started the furore as she replied to others.
She wrote: ‘As always, the press exaggerates and makes it sounds like I sold a show on a cocktail napkin- which probably seemed like a cute story to me before I understood that we live in a rigged system.
‘The fact is plenty of people had the talent, drive and focus I had. My whiteness opened doors and made my vision palatable for the mainstream. It took me a long time to understand and digest that as Black critics and thinkers patiently explained. It’s blindingly clear to me now things I love to write about- bad behavior etc- are allowed & welcomed because of my race and privilege and het cisness. the goal now is to use my platform to support emerging Black artists, BIPOC artists, LGBTQ artists.’
The star added that her production company Good Thing Going will be sharing a ‘mandate on how we are holding ourselves accountable’, saying it ‘must be a boat steered by those who have historically been left out of the narrative (and maybe I just provide the gas. Is that a metaphor? I don’t know how boats work)’.
In 2010, Lena gained much attention for her indie film Tiny Furniture, which won the narrative film prize at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival and gained fans like Judd Apatow and HBO showrunner Jennifer Konner.
This acclaim being approached by HBO, and as Girls ended in 2017, Lena – who played Hannah Horvath on the show – admitted that her pitch wasn’t exactly mind-blowing.
She told the Hollywood Reporter: ‘I wrote HBO this one sheet. It was like a tone poem about millennial life. It doesn’t mention a character, doesn’t mention a plot.
‘”They’re everything, they’re nothing, they’re everywhere, they’re nowhere.” I mean, it’s the worst pitch you’ve ever read — pretentious and horrifying — but I remember writing it, sitting on the floor listening to Tegan and Sara in my underwear, being like, “I’m a genius.”’
Since Girls ended after six critically acclaimed series, Lena has worked on the series Camping, and spent a summer in Wales filming the new HBO show Industry.