Lena Dunham Calls on "Power Bitches" to Hire More Women

"My fantasy has always been a room full of Hollywood power bitches enjoying breakfast food," the ‘Girls’ creator and star joked at The Hollywood Reporter's 2015 Women in Entertainment breakfast.

Lena Dunham kicked off The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment breakfast in her usual provocative fashion.

"Some girls who grew up in the '90s dreamt of a luxury cruise with N’Sync," she began from the Milk Studios stage in West Hollywood, "but my fantasy has always been a room full of Hollywood power bitches enjoying breakfast foods."

The Girls creator and star, who made THR’s Power 100 List for the second consecutive year, was the first in a series of A-listers, including Robert Redford, Sean Penn and honoree Barbra Streisand, to take the podium at the annual event. During her remarks, Dunham praised the high-flying women in the room for doing their part to close the industry’s gender gap.

"I want to thank all of you for brilliantly and stylishly cleaning up the mess that Hollywood has made of equality and diversity," said the vocal feminist. "After all, isn’t that historically what women have been asked to do to, clean up messes that don't belong to them?"

The 29-year-old — who earlier this year co-created the buzzy newsletter Lenny, which made headlines when Jennifer Lawrence penned a candid essay in it on pay inequality went on to talk about how late writer-director Nora Ephron, whom she called a friend and mentor, would feel about the new wave of dialogue surrounding the industry’s gender bias.

In her final book before her 2012 passing, the legendary You've Got Mail helmer and When Harry Met Sally scribe had made a list of the things in life she wouldn’t miss when she died. Among them: bras, funerals and panels on women in film. Dunham remembers echoing the latter sentiment, as she, too, was sick of talking about "female movies." Ephron's response? "We don’t want to talk about it but it’s our job to talk about it until there’s nothing left to say."

This year, the conversation about gender equality has — in Dunham’s words — "reached a fever pitch," forcing studios to answer uncomfortable questions, white male directors to "take a hand mirror to their own privilege" and the entire industry to wonder where it went wrong. "I feel, deep inside my bones — my bones being Twitter — that something is changing," she said to laughs from the audience.

All of that progress raises the question: now what? Dunham pondered what it would be like if women were to spend the next century "yukking it up like some of our more egregious male predecessors." She let the hypothetical play out: “Think about it for a second — screaming willy-nilly, going over budget, casting couches, epic benders charged on the studio dime and never, ever worrying about whether our art and our politics are aligned or whether our next creative effort will be our last."

Alas, that kind of abandon isn’t in the cards for women. Instead, Dunham urged the female leaders in the room — Bonnie Hammer, Dana Walden and Donna Langley, among them — to support each other and younger generations, as well. "Reach out a hand the way Nora did to me when I was 24 years old and utterly terrified," she said.

The young activist also called out two other formidable forces in TV, Shonda Rhimes and Jill Soloway, for their propensity use their influence to help the marginalized, crediting the Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator with showing what a universe without barriers might look like and the Transparent creator (seated at a table near her) with asking complex questions about sexuality and "letting every kid with access to the internet know there’s no such thing as a freak."

In her final minutes on stage, Dunham made one final plea. She called on the execs, producers, reps and creatives present — many on THR’s Power 100 list — to use their talents and resources to consider women, people of color and LGBTQ people, not only to tell their vital stories but also to hire them for jobs that have historically been done by "white dudes in polar fleeces."

"I am not advocating for a world where women erase men from the workplace, as pleasurable as that might be for me on certain days," she clarified, adding earnestly: "I am advocating for all of us here to make it our mission to use our resources and turn this around as a team … It’s the right thing to do and it’s the only thing to do."

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