Lena Dunham's Keynote speech at SXSW's Vimeo theater was a play-by-play of her career as a filmmaker, and how integral a role the Austin-based film festival played in her success. It read like a Wikipedia page, and every profile fans of hers have ever read. Dunham made sure to target aspiring filmmakers and give them tried and true advice you've probably already heard from her contemporaries.
However, despite the safe and sweet speech, in which she also thanked everyone from Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujalski to Adam Driver and Jenni Konner for everything she's achieved, the multitalented funny girl naturally dropped a few gems. No need to fast forward through her 40 minute speech if you happen to find it on YouTube. The highlights are below:
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
The Best Quotes From Lena Dunham's Keynote Speech:
On her beginnings as a filmmaker:
"I've been a passionate storyteller for better or worse for a long time. I'd say better would be the eulogy I wrote for my grandma, and worse would be Waiting, the play about an abortion clinic that I wrote and directed in the 10th grade and staged almost entirely with girls that had not yet begun to menstruate."
On the guy she was dating while working on Creative Nonfiction:
"I was dating a guy who lived in San Francisco and I maxed out a Visa card going back and forth to see him via Jet Blue so I could watch him snort Adderrall off a poster of deceased Latin superstar Selena."
On when she got the news that her film Creative Nonfiction had been accepted into SXSW:
"I was sitting with two little boys I babysat waiting for their piano lessons to start. Actually, I was helping one with his math worksheet while the other one played Jailhouse Rock...I was so happy that I just started to smile and cry at once and listen to the message over and over and the little boy sitting next to me stabbed me really hard with a mechanical pencil...and he just said, 'I hate to see you smile.'"
On meeting Girls cast member Alex Karpovsky at SXSW:
"He was wandering around the road still drunk at 10 a.m. and the car that I was in had to stop to let him weave past and finally I was with someone and they knew him and they were like, 'Do you need a ride?'...Thus began a beautiful creative relationship."
On finding out about Tiny Furniture's win for Best Narrative Feature at SXSW 2010:
"The producer Alicia Van Couvering got an email meant only for press that announced the winners that was embargoed...Then we felt weirdly ethical like, 'Are we supposed to confess that we know? Will they take the prize away if they know that we know?'...So we went to the ceremony ready to pretend to be surprised."
On her influx of L.A. meetings following the success of Tiny Furniture:
"This is when you sit down with a range of companies who are looking for the next big thing. Most of these meetings are really humiliating, as people try and peg you with those this-meets-that descriptors. Ricky Lake meets Tina Fey! Kathy Bates had a baby with Rodney Dangerfield! Audrey Hepburn's deformed daughter that she kept in a cage until she was 10 meets Albert Brooks!"
On her hero Agnes Varda:
"I often say Agnes Varda is to the French New Wave as Eve is to the Ruff Ryders."
On the limited types of roles for women in Hollywood:
"[Hollywood is] a world where women are typecast and men came play villains, lotharios, nerds in one calendar year and something has to change and I'm trying."
Lena Dunham's Rundown of Things She Does and Doesn't Fuck With:
Things That Are Important To Lena Dunham:
- Making people laugh and making it easier for them to be themselves
- Being a servant to causes dear to her and being a positive influence, specifically for women and girls
- Continually challenging herself creatively and never lose her sense of curiosity
Things Lena Dunham Doesn't Care About:
- All of Deadline Hollywood, especially the commenters
- Male comedians saying women aren't funny
Things Lena Dunham Sometimes Cares About:
- Twitter replies
- Fashion blogs
Lena Dunham's Best Advice:
"Don't wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary."
For more of Complex Pop Culture's SXSW coverage, click here.