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Lena Dunham is “under no illusions” about why she is asked to do things, she said Wednesday morning, joking that often “there is the hope I’ll say something fucking insane that inspires web traffic or show my breasts,” at The Hollywood Reporter‘s star-studded Women in Entertainment event at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
This year’s guest editor of THRs Women in Entertainment issue instead used her time at the podium to apologize to Aurora Perrineau and her mother, Brittany, bringing the actress’ mother as her guest to the VIP gala.
In her editor’s letter for the issue, Dunham apologized to Aurora Perrineau, acknowledging that she made a “terrible mistake” last November in defending Girls writer Murray Miller, whom she “had loved as a brother,” after he had been accused of sexually assaulting the actress. “I did something inexcusable,” Dunham wrote.
She expressed her gratitude for Perrineau’s mother, Brittany, in the letter as well, sharing that “getting to know her has been the unexpected gift that came from being humbled and reassessing so much over the past year: about women and power.”
In her speech at Wednesday’s event, Dunham reflected that her job as guest editor was to “gather strong women around me who have inspired me to do better, and it was to do better myself.” Brittany Perrineau was one of those strong women, Dunham added.
“I am standing here with my dear friend Brittany Perrineau. I admire Brittany. I love her. I laugh with her,” Dunham said. “Brittany taught me that at 32 years old, it’s time to embrace the real shit and put my big girl pants on.”
Dunham also said that denying Aurora’s experience publicly was her “greatest regret. But with Brittany and Aurora’s love, forgiveness and bravery, it’s become my greatest moment of evolution and education. I learned to listen. I learned the ways in which my own heart and mind had been colonized by patriarchy, and the ways my own ignorance operated even as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults.”
Taking the microphone herself, Perrineau said through tears to Dunham: “You hurt us. What you said was hurtful, denying survivors like you, me, Aurora and millions of others. It also showed how we are trained to blindly support perpetrators of terror because ‘they have to be right’…right?”
Perrineau then assured Dunham that she and her daughter “feel your love and receive your heartfelt apology.”
Going off-script, she implored that “forgiveness is a powerful thing and I think we need to redirect our anger at the perpetrators of these heinous assaults.” Perrineau addressed those in the room and thanked “everybody that stood up for our child.”
Also at the breakfast event, Viola Davis received the Sherry Lansing Award, presented by Lansing; Hannah Gadsby delivered the opening remarks; and Nina Jacobson received the Equity in Entertainment Award, presented by Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina.
The VIP event was sponsored by American Airlines, Cadillac, Fiji Water, eOne, Gersh, Loyola Marymount University and SAG-AFTRA, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and Entertainment Industry Foundation.
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