Tribeca 2017: Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner and America Ferrera Talk Women in Film and TV

Sophie Bennett
Ahh the Tribeca Film Festival, Lena Dunham discussed women in film and and TV industry alongside her "Girls" show runner, Jenni Konner.

The six-season run of “Girls” ended April 16. The series was extremely important for the entertainment industry, giving voices to women that are rarely shown on the big or small screens. At the Tribeca Film Festival, the show’s creator, writer and star Lena Dunham and the showrunner Jenni Konner sat down to talk with actress America Ferrera about the high and lows of their careers, specifically concerning “Girls.”

The talk began with some background on Konner and Dunham, who have become extremely close collaborators. Konner was introduced to Dunham’s movie “Tiny Furniture” and immediately fell in love with it. While on set, the two developed a friendship and eventually decided to create “Girls” together. Dunham and Ferrera, on the other hand, became close during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Konner and Dunham joked that Ferrara should run for president not only because of how amazing she was but also since her first name would make such an easy slogan.

Ferrara then jumped into discussing the show and its importance for female representation.

“[‘Girls’] changed the landscape for television and beyond for women and what they think is possible,” Ferrera said.

Both Dunham and Konner were adamant that the show was not supposed to represent all women, but just certain young women, which would hopefully inspire other women to produce shows and movies incorporating their own voices.

The conversation then turned to the backlash “Girls” endured, especially regarding Dunham’s nudity in some episodes. The actress and writer explained she had found that the most hostile reactions tended to come from people with their own body insecurities. No matter how many angry responses the show’s creators got, they received equal love and appreciation for introducing audiences to a female character that didn’t have a conventionally perfect body.

The women also discussed the controversy surrounding Dunham’s social media snafus. Dunham expressed that, for a long time, she never thought practically about the effect her words would have, which led to a lot of the politically incorrect or misunderstood comments she had made during her career. Konner and Ferrera joked that Dunham’s tombstone should say “She read the comments section,” as Dunham took the criticism she received very seriously.

The discussion also focused on the importance of women on set. Dunham and Konner explained that most of the higher-ups in the studio and many of their team members were women. Konner commented that women assemble crews differently than men do. When making “Girls,” the crew focused on creating a team that would work well together and form a family-like dynamic, and the two credit their show’s success to that chemistry.

Dunham, Konner and Ferrara stressed how important it was for women to work together and that the industry was no longer a place that only had room for a few successful young women. Ultimately, they emphasized there is strength in numbers.

“This is our moment to seize,” Dunham said.

Email Sophie Bennett at [email protected] 

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