She’s savvy, she’s not conventionally pretty, and she can set up dialogue like, well, if Tarantino were a female twenty-something who loves Taylor Swift. Recently more people have been asking, “Just who is Lena Dunham?” She writes, directs and stars in HBO’s Girls, a show that’s been likened to a more intellectual Sex and the City that’s geared toward millennials. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg — there is much more on the way. Here’s what you need to know about this enterprising starlet.
1. She’s a (Deserved) Winner
On Sunday night she scored two Golden Globes, one for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series and another on the show’s behalf for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
2. She’s Not Afraid to Bare it All
Girls’ success could be attributed in part to her characteristic openness about her life. She’s not just open to being figuratively naked, though—her notoriously “imperfect” figure takes center stage on the program quite often (more than some viewers care to see).
3. She’s a Millionaire
Dunham signed a $3.7 million book deal last October. Her upcoming collection of essays, titled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, will be an anecdotal set of her personal experiences with a bent toward advice. Her recently acquired status as a creative authority, especially for young women, has made this release widely anticipated.
4. She (Kind Of) Doesn’t Care What You Think
As most shows do, Girls has struck a chord with many while drawing sharp criticisms from many others. That doesn’t mean that she’s going to bend over backward to address the naysayers, however. As she told the Today show:
If you loved what we were doing last season, we’re going to push it further. And if you hated what we were doing last season, you’re going to hate it even more.
She has addressed at least one critique this season: Viewers who complained that she was racist will have less to talk about once they notice the addition of Community’s Donald Glover to the cast. She obviously wants to satisfy her fans, but she won’t sacrifice the show’s integrity to please people who don’t like it to begin with.
5. She’s Taken
Dunham has taken up with Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, which has left thousands of budding writer-intellectual types feeling dejected. To be fair, any problems that may arise in their relationship could be seen from miles away — she’s open about the fact that much of the show’s substance comes from her own life experiences, including the stuff about her tendency toward emotional calamities.
6. …But She Won’t Get Married
Even though she’s rumored to be engaged to Antonoff, she won’t wed him until gay marriage is legalized. That’s right, Lena — stick it to the man (or woman!). It’s hardly surprising that she’s one to take a stand, especially when it has to do with sexuality.
7. She Was Raised by Artists
Born to Laurie and Carroll Dunham (a photographer and painter, respectively) in the hip New York City neighborhood Tribeca, Dunham has been steeped in the arts her entire life. That she studied creative writing at Oberlin should come as no surprise — the girl has chops, even if she catches a disproportionate amount of flak for them.
8. She Has Powerful Friends
Dunham isn’t wary of using her connections to further her career. She befriended Judd Apatow after he saw her indie flick Tiny Furniture (written/directed by Dunham and starring herself alongside her mother and sister). He loved it so much that he now executive produces her hit show. Her much buzzed-about Golden Globes shout-out to Chad Lowe (Pretty Little Liars) made public their friendship, as did her Zac Posen gown (they’ve been buds for a while now).
9. She’s a Social Media Whiz
Mutual. It was time. RT @ichadlowe Dearest @lenadunham YOU COMPLETE ME
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) January 14, 2013
If you’re a fan of her show or her writing, you might be one of Dunham’s 188,337 (and counting) Instagram followers or her half-million Twitter followers. For one reason or another, people seem to love seeing pictures of her in an unnervingly endearing kangaroo costume, or watching her halfway tweet-flirting with Rob Lowe’s little brother. Like her or not, it makes for some pretty compelling procrastination fodder.
10. She’s Not Going Anywhere
If her recent award wins and massive book deal tell us anything, it’s that Dunham will be around for a while. Girls’ third season is already in production, and she even hit the silver screen last year with a cameo in Apatow’s This is 40. You’ll no doubt be hearing more about Lena Dunham’s exploits soon, so stay tuned.