×

Lena Dunham: How Leslie Jones Triumphed Over Internet Trolls

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Lena Dunham to write a tribute for “SNL” regular Leslie Jones, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Jones represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan.  

I first met Leslie Jones at “SNL.” She was a new writer and I was a terrified first-time host, being shuttled from office to office to hear pitches. Every conversation was a blur of clever puns and Harvard dude ingenuity (not knocking that approach, but it was different than mine). When I sat down in Leslie’s office my entire body breathed a sigh of relief: she was open about her own anxieties but so funny it didn’t matter, and she pitched a sketch in which I played Jesus’s prospective publicist.

While that never made it to air, I had no doubt that Leslie herself soon would. Everything about her presence was witty, wise and utterly original. It’s telling that in our current society a woman — and a woman of color especially — can be called radical just for daring to exist publicly. But Leslie took to her new job with so much grace, power and style that she should be called radical. She knows and embodies the voices and hopes of many.

Now she’s a full-on star: between scene-stealing moments in “Top Five,” her job as an “SNL” regular and every comedy nerd’s dream role in “Ghostbusters,” she’s become a household name and she’s done it with joy and authenticity. But as she’s brought us so much delight as viewers, she’s also exposed the darkest underbelly of the internet; the racism and misogyny being stoked by the hatred embedded in current American discourse, even as it tries to hide behind the anonymity of a screen.

She has endured more negativity and verbal violence than any person should ever be subjected to, and she’s taken it on with her trademark vulnerability, humor and wisdom. She’s leading the way for bullied teens, victims of abuse, and anyone who has ever felt silenced by judgment. She has embraced the power she has to change the dialogue. She has forced us all to look within at what would be needed, from us and our neighbors, to live in a kinder and more just society, one where we can just let Leslie Jones thrive. Because this woman was born to thrive and we are so lucky to watch her.

Lena Dunham is the executive producer and star of “Girls.” Read our full New Power of New York list here, as well as tributes for Lena Dunham (by Jenni Konner), Chelsea Clinton (by Bill Clinton) and Megyn Kelly (by Judge Judy).  

More TV

  • Cynthia Erivo25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards,

    Cynthia Erivo Talks Singing Live on Set for 'Genius: Aretha'

    Cynthia Erivo confirmed the rumor that she is indeed singing live on set for “Genius: Aretha.” During the Nat Geo series’ Television Critics’ Association press tour pane, Erivo discussed how singing live allowed her to capture the voice and essence of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. “Singing is my second language, the rumor is [...]

  • Ramy Youssef, star of the upcoming

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Reveals 'Ramy' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Hulu released premiere dates for “Ramy,” “The Great” and “Solar Opposites,” and Variety obtained an exclusive clip from “Duncanville.” DATES Showtime announced Mo’nique‘s new standup comedy special, “Mo’nique & Friends: Live From Atlanta,“ will air Feb. 7 at 10 p.m. The hour-long special features a variety of talented newcomers including Prince T-Dub, [...]

  • Armando Iannucci on Leaving 'Insult Heavy

    'Avenue 5': Armando Iannucci on Leaving 'Insult Heavy Political Dramas' Behind

    In a sketch from “The Armando Iannucci Shows,” a Channel 4 series from the “Veep” creator’s early catalogue, a couple tours a house with an eye to buying it. However, they discover that the property is, in fact, a paper drawing made by a bunch of youths with massive, life-sized crayons. Such commentary on the [...]

  • (National Geographic/Eric McCandless)

    Nat Geo Renews 'Brain Games,' 'Running Wild With Bear Grylls' and 'Life Below Zero'

    National Geographic has renewed a trio of its franchise series. The network has announced that “Brain Games” hosted by Keegan-Michael Key will be returning for another season, as well as “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” and “Life Below Zero.” The renewals were announced by National Geographic Global Television Networks president Courteney Monroe during the network’s [...]

  • Rachel Maddow Ratings Once Again Deliver

    Rachel Maddow Once Again Draws Huge Ratings for MSNBC

    The Nielsen ratings for the second night of Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas Thursday on MSNBC fell short of Wednesday’s record-breaking viewership (4.5 million viewers), notching down slightly at 4.3 million. But it was the third most-watched program in the history of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” (The second most-watched was on Jan. 8, 2019.) [...]

  • PARTY OF FIVE - Freefom's "Party

    'Party of Five' Co-Creator on 'Humbling' Moment of Staffing Freeform Reboot

    Amy Lippman, who co-created both the original 1994 version of “Party of Five” and the Freeform reboot, has been humbled by her work on the new drama. “I don’t think I realized until I got into that [writers’] room with people who had a very different life expeience than my own what value it was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content