Lena Dunham Addresses 'Girls' Backlash Over Lack of Racial Diversity
The wunderkind responds to criticism in an interview with NPR, saying: "Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting."
The debut of Lena Dunham's Girls has attracted equal parts backlash and acclaim: fans praise the HBO show as having its finger on the pulse of what it means to be young, female and clueless; still, many critics complain about a lack of diversity among the all-white quartet of leading ladies, among other gripes.
Dunham, the 25-year-old It Auteur who writes, directs and co-stars in the comedy, responded to the criticism in an interview with NPR's "Fresh Air" on Monday.
"I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting," she said. "Not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience (that) I wasn't able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls."
Dunham portrays a hapless twentysomething alongside Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke and Zosia Mamet.
"As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, 'I hear this and I want to respond to it,'" she said. "And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can't speak to accurately."
Dunham, who caught the attention of Hollywood with her breakout indie Tiny Furniture, was an instantly recognizable face on the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute Gala later that night; reporters clamored to speak with her, but she rushed by, wearing a forest-green dress with pink shoes and looking apologetic. After all, she's busy and in demand: following a promotional blitz. Girls was picked up for a second season by HBO. Dunham returns to the big screen in Judd Apatow's This is 40, slated for release in December, alongside a cast including Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Megan Fox.