Lena Dunham Delivers Keynote At SXSW; Advocates For Stronger Female Roles In Hollywood
Lena Dunham made a call for less typecasting in Hollywood for female roles and spoke about the evolution of her career during her Keynote speech at SXSW on Monday, March 10.
Fresh off her first time hosting Saturday Night Live, Dunham appeared in Austin to give a speech about her career. Dunham, 27, is currently one of the most visible and successful women in television. She writes and stars in her own hit show, HBO’s Girls, and advocates for women’s rights in her spare time.
Dunham arguably got her big break at SXSW when her debut film, Tiny Furniture, won the narrative prize at the 2010 SXSW, catapulting her into Hollywood and leading to her partnership with HBO. During her keynote speech, Dunham acknowledged her close ties to the festival.
“To me, this place represents magic, hope, beginnings, adulthood, freedom, triumph and tacos,” Dunham began.
Dunham then described her early attempts at filmmaking and how she eventually became the awkward and award-winning Dunham we all know and love. Though her show represents a new wave of strong, honest female characters on television, Dunham admitted to the SXSW audience that outside of their Girls bubble, lead actresses Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke have been having a hard time finding challenging roles. In comparison, Dunham noted, Adam Driver, who plays Dunham’s character’s love interest on the show, has seen his film career take off with a plethora of interesting roles available to him.
Dunham was quick to say that Driver deserved his success, but pointed out the discrepancy to explain how female actresses are more easily typecast in Hollywood. While Driver has been able to accumulate roles that are not simply copies of his character on Girls, Williams and Mamet have not had the same luck, says Dunham.
“Even though both [Mamet and Williams] are capable of so much, they’re not asked to do it. And this is not a knock on Adam’s talent, which is utterly boundless and he’s exactly the actor who should be doing all this. It’s a knock on a world were women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year and something has to change and I’m trying,” Dunham said.
Dunham ended her speech by stating her goals as a writer, actress, filmmaker.
“I want to make people laugh…I want to be of service to the causes that are dear to me and be an agent of change specifically for women and girls, and on a purely selfish level, I want to continually challenge myself to grow as an artist,” Dunham declared.
Dunham wrapped up her hour-long speech with one final piece of advice: “Don’t wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary.”
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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