Lena Dunham says she has learned a lot from criticism of her remarks about NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. and complaints about the lack of diversity on her HBO series Girls.
In a lengthy and candid new interview with the New York radio show The Breakfast Club, Dunham said the backlash to her comments about encountering Beckham at the Met Gala earlier this year provided “a great lesson to me in how your humor can be misconstrued.”
Last month the 30-year-old actress, writer, and director came under fire for saying in her Lenny Letter newsletter that Beckham showed no interest in talking to her at the event. “It was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards,” she wrote. “He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.”
In the Breakfast Club interview, Dunham said, “So many of my jokes are about like being insecure in my body, projecting onto other people. But in the written word, it did not translate.”
Explaining that she felt “super self-conscious” being surrounded by glamorous celebrities at the gala, Dunham continued, “I just had this whole projected thought process of like, ‘Odell doesn’t want to be sitting next to me. He doesn’t want to be talking to me. He thinks I’m garbage. He thinks I look like a boy.’ And so I thought all of that was coming across, [but] it seemed like I was actually accusing him of some kind of misogyny.”
Dunham added that she was “really grateful” to be educated about how she had “unintentionally perpetuat[ed] the stereotype of a black man as someone who will holler at anything that’s near him. Especially at this moment in history, we have to be hyper-vigilant about the way that we depict each other because of how much darkness and tension exists in this Trump-ified world that we’re in.”
Earlier in the interview Dunham also acknowledged criticism about the underrepresentation of people of color on Girls, which is concluding with its upcoming sixth season. She said one of her main goals moving forward is to “support female voices of color in the way that our voices have been supported. I think that everyone’s criticism about Girls was totally valid, but at the end of the day there need to be female creators.”
Dunham added, “The fact is, the experience of being a young black woman in Brooklyn is different from the experience of being a young white woman in Brooklyn, and I wanted to write from a place accuracy and passion and understanding. And so in the future I would love to collaborate with and support women who want to tell their stories rather than attempt to co-opt their stories so that I have the cast that looks great on a poster.”
Watch Dunham’s interview above.