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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Lena Dunham

b. May 13, 1986

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Lena Dunham until we are able to commission a full entry.

Lena Dunham.

Courtesy of Autumn de Wilde.

Lena Dunham is best known as the creator, writer, and star of HBO's Girls. Born in New York City, Dunham graduated from Oberlin College in 2008 with a BA in creative writing. While at Oberlin, Dunham produced several short independent films that she uploaded on YouTube. In 2010, she had a career breakthrough with her film Tiny Furniture, a semi-autobiographical film that won Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and earned Dunham an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Dunham’s television series Girls (2012-2017), often hailed as an updated, grittier version of Sex and the City, follows the misadventures of four young women struggling to make it in New York. The first season earned Dunham four Emmy Award nominations for her roles in acting, writing, and directing the series, as well as two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series–Musical or Comedy and Best Actress–Television Series Musical or Comedy. In February 2013, Dunham became the first woman to win a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing–Comedy Series for her work. In 2012, Dunham signed a $3.5 million deal with Random House to publish her first book, an essay collection called Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" (2014), which reached number two on The New York Times Best Seller list. In 2015, she co-founded the feminist newsletter The Lenny Letter. In 2019, Dunham played the role of Catherine “Gypsy” Share in Quentin Tarantino's film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, launched her production company Good Thing Going, and, with Alissa Bennett, started The C-Word Podcast. In 2022, Dunham's second feature film, Sharp Stick, starring Dunham, Kristine Froseth, and Jon Bernthal, was released to mixed reviews.  

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lena Dunham." (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/dunham-lena>.


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