Don't Make This Career Mistake, Says "Girls" Executive Producer Jenni Konner
In honor of our co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s upcoming book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($13), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (to parallel the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of inspirational female leaders who are at the top of their fields. We last spoke to Goop’s CEO Lisa Gersh, and now we're chatting with Jenni Konner, the talented executive producer of HBO's Girls.
When a little-known show called Girls premiered on HBO in the spring of 2012, critics couldn’t get enough of breakout star Lena Dunham. Dubbed the face and brains of the boundary-pushing series, it didn’t take long until we discovered Dunham’s smart, savvy and seriously likable “creative soulmate.” It’s time to meet the other girl behind the hit TV show: Jenni Konner.
Konner, the self-proclaimed mama bear on set, is executive producer and writer, along with Dunham and Judd Apatow. She also made her directorial debut in the recent Season 5 finale, which was met with critical praise. Add to that her own production company and feminist newsletter Lenny, and you can understand why we’ll listen to anything Konner has to say.
If like us, you're nursing withdrawals after the epic Girls finale and haven't come to terms with the reality that there is only one season left, we've got just the thing you need. Get to know the seriously inspiring Girls showrunner as we talk career regret, finding motivation, and Khloé Kardashian (yes, really).
"I run the show Girls, which means writing, casting, managing writers, actors, and crew, and sometimes directing. I also have a production company called A Casual Romance and a media company called Lenny with my best friend and creative partner, Lena Dunham."
"The amount of time I spend approving our characters' hairstyles. Seriously."
"It was the '90s. My roommate worked at Agnes b., and I got a discount. So probably a blazer and some black pants."
"I might have to pick a 30-minute nap. That being said, I would like to ask Elaine May all her secrets."
"Twitter has replaced all other media, for better or worse, but nothing is more effective than a great (wine-filled) dinner with other female producers."
"There were times I felt so lucky just to be in the room that I forgot I had value. It's easy, as the only woman in a room full of male comedy writers, to be so excited to be at the table that you forget how important your voice really is."
"Humor, empathy, integrity, responsibility, smells good."
"Any Irene Neuwirth jewelry piece. My Clare Vivier fanny pack. Right now my entire wardrobe consists of different color Jesse Kamm pants and The Great cropped T-shirts."
"Looking for my keys."
"Lena and I like to play hooky and window-shop and talk shit and laugh until the block is gone."
"With respect and gratitude."
"We spend the whole morning at Girls planning for lunch, and by the time it comes, we're already sick of it. That being said, it's usually a salad with protein—we're in L.A., after all."
"In writers, I really try to encourage them to have solutions rather than shoot ideas down. No one benefits from negativity in a creative space."
"Clare Vivier, because she's a one-woman style machine who makes ethical products for business chicks. Creatures of Comfort: Their stuff is so gorgeous and effortless. William Cult: I don't even know who he is; just trust and follow. Museum Mammy, aka Kim Drew, who is diversifying the art world one post at a time. Khloé Kardashian because we are so, so similar (in my heart). Lenny Letter: Our editor Laia Garcia is a true Instagram guru."
"Morning is all about getting my kids to consume food and get to class without incident. Then Tracy Anderson or everyone around me suffers—it's a major mood enhancer. In the evening, we make dinner as a family—cooking is one of my main escapes. I read every night before bed, which always relaxes and inspires me. And if I'm being good, [transcendental meditation] twice a day for 20 minutes. It's an emotional and physical reset button."
"Phil Rosenthal told me (picture this with a heavy New York accent), 'A good note can come from anywhere.' And it's so true. So many writers fight the studio or network just because they are a studio or network. TV is collaborative, and part of our jobs is to listen."
"We're expanding Lenny, and it feels pretty amazing to bring other women's voices into the fold, to support them the way we've been supported."
Feeling inspired? Preorder The Career Code below and transform your work life.