What were our favourite bits from Lena Dunham's keynote speech at this year's SXSW?
Lena Dunham’s keynote speech at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, reinforced precisely why we love her. She may have her critics out there who are more than ready to pounce on everything that she says and does, but our girl Lena has her head screwed on and a pretty accurate outlook on the equally opportunities landscape.
Dunham was a keynote speaker at SXSW 2014
At 27 years old, Lena is already famed as the creator of hit HBO sitcom Girls, but she claims that she has a real soft spot for SXSW as it “marks the beginning of [her] life as a working artist”. Lena recalled how her first cut of short film Creative Nonfiction was rejected by the festival, but after a few edits on her part they finally accepted it. She claims that the festival “proved to be the greatest week of my life...I ate tacos. I drank milkshakes. I swam in Barton Springs. I drank a beer at a backyard rock show and talked to cute guys who would’ve never given me the time of day in New York.”
At that year’s festival Dunham would also go on to meet some actors and collaborators with whom she would work on her most important and significant projects to date, Tiny Furniture and Girls. “It remains the most thrilling and least complicated moment of my career so far”, she said.
Never one to shy away from a controversial topic, Dunham also addressed the lack of opportunities out there for female actresses. To illustrate her point she discussed how her onscreen boyfriend from Girls, Adam Driver, has many chances to branch out as an actor than her female co-stars. “People are ready to see Adam play a million different guys in one year - from lotharios to villains to nerds. Meanwhile Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet are still waiting for parts they can get interested in”. Dunham also expressed that she felt the same about her own career and has mainly starred in roles which she has created herself, adding “There’s no place for me in the studio system”.
While we love Lena and think that there is much truth in what she has said, we have to say that actors with a range are able to star in a variety of roles. If you only ever play yourself, or a version of yourself, can it still be considered acting?
Perhaps Dunham has inadvertently type cast herself by only starring as characters that she herself has written and therefore feels comfortable playing? However, she insists she will continue fighting for more roles to become available for women. “Something has to change”, she sums up, “and I’m trying”.