Girls star Lena Dunham talks politics, equality and the environment

By Divya Kumar, EDITOR IN CHIEF
On October 16, 2012

With the presidential election less than a month away, isnt 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 Obamas 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 shes 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 dont quite know what youre going to eat for lunch or your
entire future, she said in response to a question from The Oracle. Its 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 Ive 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 Ive grown and become an adult and left the bubble of college, Ive 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 sisters wedding, she said. The idea that she wouldnt be able to share the same rights just horrifies me, and its horrifying to our president. Its not the first time Im voting, but its the first time Im being so vocal about it. For me, theres too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.

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

Im freaked out about it right now, because its 110 degrees in L.A. practically, and its 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 Ive 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 its an artists responsibility to step outside the world they create that they want to live in and make that real.

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