10 TV Scribes to Watch

In the span of a little more than a year, 24-year-old writer-director-actor Lena Dunham went from obscure indie artist to acclaimed filmmaker and latenight talkshow guest with the release of her little film that could, “Tiny Furniture” — and is now bringing all her talents to upcoming HBO project “Girls.”

Dunham’s work showcases her blunt self-awareness as a writer and performer, and her raw, self-deprecating sense of humor (in “Tiny Furniture” her sister calls Dunham “over-share-y.”)

Dunham’s parents are both artists, and as a child she wrote stories, drew and put on epic plays. While a student at Oberlin College, she dabbled in poetry and playwriting.

“Neither was truly my medium,” Dunham says. “I was always trying to find the right way to tell a story and hadn’t yet discovered that television and film were options, so I’d tell stories that probably should have been half-hour dramedies, but do it in the form of a weird haiku or overwrought stage play.”

Then she made her first short film. “I’d never felt that addictive, slightly nauseating mix of anxiety and euphoria before,” she says.

All her interests twined in her current gig writing, directing and co-starring in “Girls.” It is exec produced by Judd Apatow, who was so impressed with “Tiny Furniture” that he reached out to Dunham via email.

She was already writing the “Girls” pilot, but Apatow eagerly came aboard to nudge it along.

“He has inspired, expedited, protected, advised, pitched,” Dunham says. “It’s been an incredible working relationship and learning experience.”

Dunham’s also adapting the popular young adult novel “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.”

“The story really resonated with me,” she says. “It’s about anxious, complicated teenagers coming of age in New York, struggling with issues of identity, disconnection and the insane volume of shoppers at Macy’s during Christmas.”

Down the road, Dunham would love to leave modern times. “I’ve always wanted to make a realistic period piece,” she says, “something that still makes people laugh and cringe the way a naturalistic current comedy can.”

10 TV SCRIBES TO WATCH
Rising writers take biggest step
Alex Cary | Whitney Cummings | Lena Dunham | John Enbom | David Hudgins | Rolin Jones | Kyle Killen | Chris Provenzano | Emily Spivey | Hilary Winston

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more