Saturday, 1 November 2014

Lena Dunham - Girl Hero

It is no secret how much I love Lena Dunham. She is a woman I have related to more than anyone else in my life and it means so much to have an idol that represents so much that I have experienced and believe in.

It can be quite frustrating airing my admiration for Lena to others, because despite her award winning show and worldwide presence, I still get blank looks when I say her name. She still manages to be unknown by some and I just want to sit them down and show them all her work and make them see her genius.

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Lena Dunham talk at the Southbank Centre on her book tour. When the tickets went on sale a few months back, it was essential that I got my hands on the tickets and lord have mercy if I didn't. Luckily I did, and my ticket included a signed copy of Lena's book 'Not That Kind of Girl'.

Since I first found out about Lena Dunham, shortly after Tiny Furniture and slightly before Girls premiered in the UK, I have admired her. She was a young woman, not much older than me, and she was finally airing what it was to be a twenty-something right now. Not the privileged life of the upper east side, not the unrealistic life of a new york writer who can still afford designer shoes but real brutal twenty-something women who were making mistakes, still yet to find out who they were and what they were doing with their life and had obvious flaws and all the while it was funny!

When I sat down to watch Girls when it premiered on UK TV, I was excited and curious to see if it was really as great as everyone had said and I wasn't disappointed. As that first episode premiered and before even the first ad break, I was a convert. I was Hannah Horvath, that was me, Lena Dunham had explained me in a way I never thought possible. I was in love with this show.

As the seasons have continued and Lena has become higher profile, that love and admiration has not diminished and every episode makes me fall in love with her a little bit more. I am on tenterhooks for the forth season.

Last night, seeing her in real life and being in the presence of her genius just highlighted how much I admire her and what a genuine, funny and intelligent woman she is. Interviewed by Caitlin Moran (another hero of mine) - she had the crowd in the palm of her hand as she made them laugh, clap in admiration and think about important issues.

The reason Lena became so celebrated is for her unapologetic brand of feminism. She was producing films and TV that featured strong leading female characters who had strong views, strong minds and made mistakes like the rest of us. They didn't have perfect jobs, they had trouble achieving their dream job paths, they lusted over inappropriate men and they had messy sex. Her work is a breath of fresh air when sex and female leads have always been made to seem to perfect and flawless.

As she talked last night, I felt myself relate to her even more, as she talked about having more pyjamas than clothes me and my best friend Zoe smirked as we knew that was me.

Lena, like me, believes in the equality of everyone - be that race, sexuality and sex. She highlighted how women in the industry are judged for how much they make and what they are doing with it, while men are not. The same with how they look, when was the last time you heard about how a male actor looked when a whole industry is made from judging how women do. Lena's red carpet style is fun and represents her, she is not afraid to take risks and wears what she wants - not what will get her on the 'best dressed' list.

Near the end of the event, they invited questions from the audience and I got up without hesitation to approach the microphone. As I stood at that microphone that was taller than me and waited as Caitlin asked Lena some quick fire questions, my mouth went dry and my heart beat fast. Was I really going to ask Lena a question in front of over 2000 people?

As it happened, I did, in fact I was the first one to ask a question. I asked what we could expect from the forth season of a Girls and Lena and Caitlin both said it was a great question and told me how Hannah will be going to grad school and how it was important for the character to take that step. She also hinted earlier in the evening about a birth in the show.

Even now, 24 hours after the event, it is kind of sinking in what I did. I asked Lena Dunham a question in front of a full auditorium of people. To think that Lena Dunham and Caitlin Moran directly addressed and looked at me is insane and I love that I can kind of say I interviewed Lena Dunham. As someone that hates public speaking and dreads even speaking up in a small meeting, let alone 2000 people, I'm proud of myself for just going for it before I could over think and berate myself for missing a chance. Yay for bravery.

Last night I came away proud to be a woman and inspired - with my love for Lena more than ever. I've started reading her book and hope to finish it before the weekend is up. Her honesty is overwhelming and her experiences interesting and relatable at times. Some of the things she says directly mirror my own deepest thoughts. I'll let you know my full thoughts and views once I finish the book, but I already encourage you to read it.

As a writer, I want to be able to put my thoughts, feelings and experiences down in such a poetic way and have even an iota of the success Lena has had. A writer, director and actress - she truly is an amazing woman and I don't know how she does it.

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