Always entertaining, Lena Dunham chats to MiNDFOOD’s Michele Manelis about life after ‘Girls’, her love of hairless cats, and explains the definition of ‘pouching out’.
Cultural icon, writer, producer, director and actress, Lena Dunham, 32, often described as the ‘voice of her generation’. She changed the television landscape with the HBO hit Girls, which ran from 2012 to 2017, and now changes gears with the upcoming comedy, Camping, based on the UK show created by Julia Davis.
This is a new chapter in your life – is that an accurate description?
Yes, a lot has happened to me personally this year. A lot has changed for me professionally, my goals have changed, and for me that really necessitates a return to what I love. So I am writing several scripted projects, I am finishing a book, I am starting a book, I am working on some theatre stuff and working on some podcasting stuff. I am re-orienting my life.
We think of you as a city girl. What is your relationship to camping?
Actually, right before we did this I said to my writing partner, ‘Should we go sleep in a tent just to try it out?’ And she was like, ‘Have you met you?’ Like, I can’t really even go to the beach without having to call a doctor, there’s no way I can go camping.
How did this come about for you?
I went on a trip to England for a week and met up, with Julia Davis and we really got along. Now my tradition when I go to England is that we sit and we go have fancy tea and we eat little cakes. (laughs) And so I talked to her about the concept of Camping. And she works in a very personal way. It’s very similar if somebody asked me to remake “Girls,” I’d be like, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ It’s my story, it’s my life, it’s personal to me. But then if I respected them as an artist, I would say, ‘Go and figure out what this means for you.’ And Julia was kind enough to let us do that.
Where do you write? At home or do you have an office?
I have an office, actually, in Los Angeles. I have a little house and my office is actually a closet, (laughs) it’s truly a closet to the point where I have to keep the door open because if you close the door the light goes off, because it’s a closet! So I have a little desk in there and a computer and all my things. But I write a lot in bed. For me, I’m usually surrounded in bed by five books, I still don’t use a Kindle, I like paper books. So I generally have three scripts, a computer and a snack on the bed. One of my best friends is a British playwright called Polly Stenham, and she calls it ‘pouching out.’ When you stay in bed and you get really pouchy and pouch out and she is like you feel like a kangaroo in a pouch. That’s my favourite way to write.
What about guilty pleasures?
I will admit that I do occasionally need to watch “The Real Housewives” live, (laughs) and I want to be caught up on what everybody knows. I love “The Deuce” and I watched every episode. I don’t want to see on Instagram the next day what’s happened on “The Deuce,” I want to know for myself.
What books do you read?
Right now I’m obsessed with this Irish writer, Sally Rooney. She wrote a book called, “Conversations With Friends” and it’s a beautiful novel. And her second novel is about to come out and it’s called “Normal People” and I was lucky enough to get a galley of it. I have a book club on Twitter that’s books under 100 pages, so the book that we just read is called “Binit” and it’s a British Sci-Fi novel that’s sort of Afro-Futurism about race and Science and it’s a really amazing book. And so what’s cool is that I have a lot of people who are reading along with me on Twitter so we can engage with each other. I encourage people to get the paper book but if they end up getting it on Kindle I am not judging. (laughs)
You’re very active on social media. Who do you follow?
Well, I’m intermittent with social media. Sometimes I will go on and Tweet a bunch, sometimes I will just tell my amazing social media manager or the people who work for me, I will tell them what I have been thinking about, or I will send them ideas for posts and then they can put it up as they see fit. I follow a lot of really amazing women. On Instagram if you look at my explore feed, it’s all hairless cats and body positivity models. So clearly I am looking at something very specific.
I grew up with hairless cats because my mom is allergic. I am not allergic, but I am just obsessed with them. So I have rescued two, one is from a breeder. I have had eight in my life, but now I only have three. Their names are Irma, Candy and Lulu.
How would you describe your living room where you watch Tv? What is your sofa like?
So comfiness is really my number one value when it comes to my sofa. So, I have a really comfortable sofa, I have my three hairless cats, so we have a bunch of polar fleece blankets and pillows because that’s what they like to lie on. And then they usually lie on size order, the three of them. I lie on the couch and I have a heating pad which I use on my back, and then I have a foot massaging machine under my sofa. (laughs) It’s really cozy. I have the foot massaging machine, the heating pad, the three cats, a table covered in books, tons of green tea, tons of seltzer, tons of crackers, a TV that usually has “I Love You Alice B. Tolkas” playing in the background, and then usually like two or three friends sitting on the couch. It’s a very nice scene.
I have very specific hobbies, and my hobbies are cats and dogs, I am really into animals and animal rescue and spending time with my pets. I love traveling. For me, a big thing is going to see amazing locations from literary history. I was just in England and getting the opportunity to go see the place where Lord Byron lived, things like that are just nerdy pleasures for me and I try to schedule them into my life as often as I can. Travel is something that I am coming to value more, especially as my health gets better. I love crafts, so I do watercolours and I bead and paint pots. So anyone who is my friend has gotten very stupid presents for me.