Actress Lena Dunham denied using the N-word on the set of her HBO show "Girls" after Donald Glover joked about it during an awards show.
The actor-musician referenced his time on Dunham’s show while presenting an award to writer-producer Paul Simms at the Writers Guild Awards on Sunday. Glover, who previously played a boyfriend of Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath, recalled filming a sex scene on the show and commenting to Dunham on her work with Simms.
"Afterwards, I asked Lena, ‘Yo, what made you decide to work with Paul?’ And she goes ‘Honestly, this n- lets me do whatever I want,’" Glover commented. "I remember thinking two things: One, Lena is using the N-word extremely liberally. Who does she think she is, Chevy Chase? And two, that’s the kind of producer I want."
By Monday, a representative from Dunham released a statement that denied the interaction and insisted that the comment was only a joke.
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"Donald Glover told a joke referencing Lena Dunham for last night’s WGA Awards. It included, for effect, language Lena never used, nor would use. Full stop," the statement read.
Dunham was previously accused of racism by a former newsletter writer Zinzi Clemmons in a since-deleted Twitter post in 2017. In the post, Clemmons accused Dunham of pushing "hipster racism" by shrugging off racist interactions like using the N-word as "just a joke."
"Back in college, I avoided those people like the plague because of their well-known racism," she wrote. "I'd call their strain 'hipster racism,' which typically uses sarcasm as a cover, and in the end, it looks a lot like gaslighting — 'It's just a joke. Why are you overreacting?' is a comment response to these kinds of statements," Clemmons wrote.
She continued, "In Lena's circle, there was a girl who was known to use the N-word in conversation in order to be provocative, and if she was ever called on it, she would say ‘it's just a joke.’ I was often in the same room with her, but I never spoke to her, only watched her from afar in anxiety and horror."
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While Dunham did not respond to the allegations of racism, she later responded after Simmons attacked her for supporting "Girls" writer Murray Miller while he was accused of sexual assault by an actress.
"I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry," Dunham responded.
Elsewhere during Glover’s speech, Glover also joked about past racist remarks made to him by his former "Community" co-star Chevy Chase.
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"This award was named after Herb Sargent, a writer who worked on Saturday Night Live and came up with Weekend Update with Chevy Chase," Glover said. "Chevy Chase once called Herb one of the funniest writers working in television. And Chevy Chase once called me… you know, this is about Paul."