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‘Girls’ star Lena Dunham talks politics, equality and the environment

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 09:10



Lena Dunham, actress and director of HBO series “Girls,” aims to encourage students to get involved in politics.

With the presidential election less than a month away, isn’t uncommon to see the two worlds of politics and Hollywood colliding.

Lena Dunham, the lead actress, writer and director of the HBO series “Girls” who recently inked the lucrative $3.5 million book deal with  publisher Random House,  was in her final year of school at Oberlin College in Ohio during the last presidential election.

“We had mad debates (and) lots of tension ... so that really left an impression on me,” she said on a  conference call Monday as she expressed her support for President Barack Obama’s campaign. “There was a lot of excitement and energy.”

But the 26-year-old, whose five-time Emmy-nominated show follows the lives of four women fresh out of college and looking to start their lives in New York City, said though she’s never been vocal about politics in the past, this election has become personal to her, and now that she has a platform through her newly-found stardom, she hopes to use it.

“For me, the audience I try to connect with through my work are young people in sort of figuring out that challenging moment after college where you don’t quite know what you’re going to eat for lunch or your
entire future,” she said in response to a question from The Oracle. “It’s hugely important to me that young
people be informed and that we break the idea that our generation is apathetic.”

Dunham said she first became interested in politics after leaving college.

“While I’ve always had strong Democratic leanings, I honestly lived in a world where I felt like the rights that I had were unthreatened,” she said to The Oracle. “As I’ve grown and become an adult and left the bubble of college, I’ve realized that so many things I took for granted — my right to choose, my friends’ right to health care, my right as a woman to receive equal pay. When I realized those things were in question, it really sobered me up.”

The issues she cares about, she said, are broad-ranging, from student loan debt to gay marriage equality. The latter of which strikes close to home.

“I really hope to one day be able to dance my ass off at my sister’s wedding,” she said. “The idea that she wouldn’t be able to share the same rights just horrifies me, and it’s horrifying to our president. It’s not the first time I’m voting, but it’s the first time I’m being so vocal about it. For me, there’s too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.”

The environment, she said, is another issue that college students should care about.

“I’m freaked out about it right now, because it’s 110 degrees in L.A. practically, and it’s going to be Thanksgiving soon,” she said in a manner channeling Hannah, the slightly paranoid, yet fairly conscientious but lackadaisical character she plays on “Girls.” “That feels like global warming.”

Dunham encouraged college students to go “dorm to dorm” and to “be the annoying nag in the cafeteria” to ask other college students to vote. Encouraging this, she said, feels like her responsibility.

“I feel as an artist, while I’ve never made work that was overtly political, I make work that is about the world I want to live in,” she said. “I never imagined when I was making films in college and high school that I would have this type of ability  to  reach people about   things that matter to me. I think it’s  an artist’s responsibility to step outside the world they create that they want to live in and make that real.”

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