Creating, writing, and starring in a popular TV show like ‘Girls’ sounds exhausting, but Lena Dunham slayed at it, all while accumulating a massive net worth.
Before ‘Girls,’ Lena Dunham worked on several different projects
Though ‘Girls’ is what launched Lena Dunham onto TV screens across the nation, she had to do something pretty spectacular before HBO let her create an entire series which she could write, direct, and star in. During her time at Oberlin College, Lena Dunham created several pieces, both serious and comedic, focusing on sexual enlightenment, including a Youtube series for Nerve.com entitled Tight Shots, which inveigled young people, sex, and alcohol. After graduation, the piece that really caught HBO’s attention was ‘Tiny Furniture,’ a semi-autobiographical independent film Lena Dunham both wrote and starred in.
Tiny Furniture premiered at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in 2010 and won the narrative film prize. Dunham also submitted her comedy Creative Nonfiction to the ssame festival the previous year. Tiny Furniture also won Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards and also played at the Maryland Film Festival.
The film follows Aura, played by Lena Dunham, as she returns home to live with her mother and sister after graduating college. Artist Laurie Simmons, Lena’s real-life mother, plays Aura’s mother, and the two are joined by Dunham’s sister Grace Dunham in the role of Aura’s sister. ‘Tiny Furniture’ was praised in Variety for being realistic to the post-college angst of inventing one’s self. Obviously, this feeling was strong for Dunham after college, but this self-reflective film making would cause controversy for her later on.
Lena Dunham gained film credits with several movies before staring in her own TV show, ‘Girls.’
Following Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham took on a small roll in horror film The Innkeepers, adding a moment of humor to the dark movie. She’s also had roles in ‘This is 40,’ and ‘Happy Christmas.’
‘This is 40’ was a return to Dunham’s comedic roots. The movie starred Paul Rudd and and Leslie Mann and it was written by Leslie Mann’s Judd Apatow, who saw Tiny Furniture and started working with Dunham, immediately after. In the midst of helping her write Girls, Apatow brought Dunham onto set for ‘This is 40’ to play a quirky assistant to Rudd’s character.
While working on Girls, Dunham also participated in the improvised movie ‘Happy Christmas’ with Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg, and Mark Webber. In ‘Happy Christmas,’ Dunham’s character worked alongside Kendrick to revitalize Lynskey’s career.
Controversy and feminine legacy
While working on ‘The Innkeepers,’ ‘This is 40,’ and ‘Happy Christmas,’ Lena Dunham was hard at work on her HBO series ‘Girls.’ Dunham’s autobiographical work continued in the first season of this TV show, as ‘Girls,’ dubbed the new ‘Sex in the City,’ follows a group of friends in their 20’s, with Dunham in the leading role of Hannah, a white Jewish woman. During its six season run, which came to end in 2017, ‘Girls’ was tossed about as being innovative but also privileged, most critics hitting on its lack of diversity. Dunham called this criticism totally valid, stating she didn’t have the knowledge or authority to comment on the issues women of color face.
It’s not one size fits all, and there are issues that women of color deal with that white women have no idea. White feminists do not have a great history of carrying their black sisters along with them.
Dunham on why Girls focused on issues facing white women
To try and combat this criticism, season two of ‘Girls’ starts with Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, dating Donald Glover though this love affair only lasts two episodes. Moving forward in the series, though, the show took on issues that are close to the hearts of women around the world. Girls was praised for portraying realistic sex, exposing the non-traditional idea of beauty in women’s bodies, and giving millennial’s a voice.
Critics missed the satire of this millennial voice, however, and from the start, Lena Dunham’s character Hannah was self-involved and ignorant, Her character was able to shed light on the think-pieces of the minds of millennials in a way only Dunham could do.
Hannah Horvath was never Lena Dunham. Hannah was never going to be a voice of anything but her own confusion, which was part of a joke that a great many critics seemed determined not to get. She has always been too self-involved and insufficiently self-aware to turn her life into art.
A.O. Scott, New York Times writer, on the satire found on Girls
Another positive attribute that came out of the show’s lack of diversity was inciting a conversation about the lack of diversity in media overall, because ‘Girls’ was definitely not the first or last show to focus on white people problems.
Lena Dunham: Writer and activist
From writing for the screen to writing a book
Lena Dunham published her first book with Random House in September 2014, a memoir comprised of personal essays titled ‘Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” Just like ‘Girls’, the book received mixed reviews, one side stating the book was charming with its brutally honest humor, while others noted Dunham’s narcissism and unoriginal experiences. Either way, the publication definitely pumped up Lena Dunham’s net worth.
Not That Kind of Girl reached #2 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Dunham’s book also came into legal crossfires when she accused a “Barry” of raping her in college. Breitbart News searched through alumnus of Oberlin College and found a man matching “Barry’s” description and dragged him into the chaotic world that is Lena Dunham. Random House was quick to remind the court that “Barry” was a pseudonym, so no charge could be made, but the name was dropped from future publications.
Working as an activist
Inspired by her Russian immigrant great-grandmother and the strength she had in coming to America, , Dunham commits much of her time to activism, fighting for the rights and freedoms and of women and the LBGTQ community. Another big inspiration for Dunham is her sister Grace Dunham, who came out to her family at age 17.
I have always felt a strong emotional connection to members of the LGBTQ community. My sister Grace coming out as a gay woman at age 17 was a huge turning point for me in my understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ people.
Dunham on how her sister’s coming out sparked her passion for activism more
Lena Dunham and sister Grace Dunham
Lena Dunham’s sister, Grace Dunham, was a huge inspiration for Lena’s activist work.
While dating now ex-boyfriend Jack Antonoff, the pair would shut down engagament rumors by stating that they would not get married until the LGBTQ community had the right to do the same.
Of course, like everything Dunham has done, her feminist activism has been anything but smooth. She was quick to receive backlash when she said she wished she received an abortion so she could better understand what women who have done so have gone through.
I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don’t convey this truth clearly.
Dunham’s apology after an insensitive comment about wanting an abortion
Most recently, Dunham in under fire for defending Girls writer Murray Miller after he was accused of sexually assaulting actress Aurora Perrineau when she was 17.
Her hysterectomy and endometriosis
Since she was young, Lena Dunham knew she was destined to have children. When she was younger, she admits to running around the house with pillow or piles of clothes stuffed under her shirt. This destiny won’t be met in the traditional way, though, because for years Lena Dunham has suffered from endometriosis, a severely painful disease where the tissue traditionally found in a woman’s womb grows in other places, such as the abdomen or ovaries. Dunham has gone through several surgeries over the years and thought she was rid of the pain last April. In November, however, the pain came back, and Dunham showed up at a hospital determined to have a hysterectomy, the removal of her uterus.
Dunham woke to family surrounding her, who were all thrilled to see she had taken steps towards ending her pain, but she has received backlash for having a hysterectomy at such a young age. The surgery is not a cure for endometriosis and the pain could still return. In letter she wrote to prove she was committed to the surgery, though, Dunham revels in the freedom she had in making the decision.
“I know that a hysterectomy isn’t the right choice for everyone, that it’s not a guarantee that this pain will disappear, and that you are performing it due to your deeply held, essential and—to my mind—feminist belief that women should be able to make a choice about how they want to spend their childbearing years.”
Dunham in her letter to her doctor as to why she wanted her hysterectomy
Dunham has also received endless support from women who are also living with a hysterectomy, and is looking forward to her future where she still intends to fulfill her destiny of being a mother, happy to take the non-traditional routes available to her.
I may have felt choiceless before, but I know I have choices now. Soon I’ll start exploring whether my ovaries, which remain someplace inside me in that vast cavern of organs and scar tissue, have eggs. Adoption is a thrilling truth I’ll pursue with all my might.
Dunham in her Vogue article about her excitement in moving forward after hysterectomy
Her split with long-term boyfriend Jack Antonoff.
After five years together, it was reported in December of 2017 that Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff, best known as the lead guitarist of the band ‘Fun,’ amicably split. After years of engagement rumors constantly circling them, Dunham thought he was going to pop the question in October. But things went the opposite direction after months of reportedly growing apart. Of course, this has unfortunately been the focus in Dunham’s post-surgery life, while magazines comment on her appearance during her first sighting in public after surgery while Antonoff is seen hanging around Lorde.
The first spotting of Lena Dunham after her hysterectomy.
JustJared.com spotted Dunham out running errands, saying she looked in good spirits in her posy-surgery life
Sources say Antonoff has been supportive amidst Dunahma’s health issues and her recovery, but Dunham is very appreciative of all the people who are helping her through this rough start to 2018.
Lena Dunham doesn’t need a man to get through her surgery, though. Grace Dunham and mama Laurie are surely at Lena’s side after the recent surgery and split, and celeb friends like Taylor Swift and Aubrey Plaza are always there for emotional support as well.
Lena Dunham’s net worth is $12 million, making her one of Hollywood’s top-paid actresses.
At the start of the second season of Girls, Lena Dunham was being paid $150,000 an episode. With a top-selling memoir and series rumored to be in the works, Dunham is making bank and doesn’t look like she intends to slow down, her net worth likely to grow in this new era of her career. After the breakup and the surgery, her goals include working on herself and her work.
One of the top net worth’s in Hollywood
In 2013, with the signing of her book deal with Random House and the second season of Girls, Lena Dunham was the 15th highest-paid actress.That same year, Times named her one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. Five years later, though, with Girls over and in the chaos of revealing her hysterectomy, Dunham has new plans looking ahead in her writing career.
I’d love to write something for a male protagonist. That’s sort of the next frontier for me. I think it’d be really amazing to write the kind of parts that I love for women but for a guy.
Dunham on what she’s looking into writing next, as she will never write another show with four white female protagonists
If this really is Dunham’s next step, one can only feverishly anticipate the kind of controversies a male protagonist from Lena Dunham would stir up, given her overtly sexual writing style. Whatever this problematic-fave does next is sure to get everyone talking. No matter what, though, she’ll face the backlash or praise the same way always has: with strength and a smile.