Tessa Thompson Clarifies Comment About Lena Dunham and Time's Up

"We have spoken and she knows my heart," the actress says

By Zach Johnson Jan 09, 2018 3:10 PMTags
Tessa ThompsonRich Polk/Getty Images for Disney

Over the weekend, Tessa Thompson shared a picture of a group of activists and celebrities—including Tarana Burke, Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep and Emma Watson—crowded together to celebrate their hard work on Time's Up, the anti-sexual harassment movement backed by 300 prominent women in Hollywood. "Why is Lena Dunham there?" one commenter asked. "She's part of the problem. No thank you to Time's Up." Another user brought up Dunham's latest controversy: defending Girls writer Murray Miller, who is accused of rape. "I support this initiative and the fight for gender justice and am really glad that the movement is growing," the user said. "I however am perplexed by the inclusion of Lena Dunham, a woman who publicly accused a young sexual assault survivor of color, Aurora Perrineau, of lying about her assault."

(Dunham later apologized for defending Murray, who denies Peerrneau's claims.)

Thompson responded by distancing herself from Dunham. "Lena was not anywhere present in our group during the countless hours of work for the last two months," she told the user. "We hosted an open house for the actresses for red carpet messaging and Lena's presence was a surprise to us all. This is a time of reckoning. And for many, a re-education. So many women also have real work to do. I'm afraid it's too nuanced a conversation to have on this platform. But I hear you, and know that your thoughts and words are not lost on me. It's been discussed."

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In response to Thompson, Dunham issued a statement to IndieWire. "I was honored to be invited to the meeting by a close friend and to observe the work that these amazing women have been doing the past few months," she said. "For highly personal reasons, I've been unable to join previous efforts but being asked to be a part of this celebratory moment was truly beautiful. I've worked with Tessa and respect her artistry and admire her consistent candor."

Thompson apologized to Dunham Tuesday morning. "I sometimes lack finesse in navigating social media. Hard to discuss issues with nuance there. A response I made to comments on an Instagram became fodder for a piece that I believe was designed to create conflict where there isn't any. It's perhaps more complex than that. But I, in no way, want to diminish Lena Dunham and her work, her voice, and her importance. We have spoken and she knows my heart. I feel a responsibility to women that have sometimes felt ignored, dismissed, and underrepresented. They are my beacons. I regret that my words were misinterpreted to distract from the most important thing: The Time's Up campaign is for everyone, in all capacities, contributions big and small," she explained in a note, shared via Twitter. "It doesn't belong to any one. It is for us all."

"The beauty of this huge collaboration has been a group of countless committed people who have come together for a shared purpose. To create change. And it is such a powerful thing," the Thor: Ragnarok star added. "I stand, humbled, with everyone involved. Linked not ranked."