Grace Dunham (/ˈdʌnəm/ DUN-um; born January 28, 1992) is an American writer and activist.[1][2] Dunham appeared in the independent film Tiny Furniture (2010), which was written and directed by Dunham's older sister, filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham.

Early life

Dunham was born and raised in New York City.[3] Dunham's mother, Laurie Simmons, is an artist and photographer, and Dunham's father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter.[4][5] Her older sister, Lena, is the creator and star of the HBO series Girls.


Dunham attended St. Ann's School in New York City[6] where Dunham wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook and spoke at her graduation.[3] During Dunham's senior year of high school, Dunham came out as gay to her sister.[7] Dunham graduated from Brown University in May 2014 with a degree in urban studies.[8]

As a high school student in 2009, Dunham received the Poetry Society of America's Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award for Dunham's poem Twin Oaks, which was judged for the competition by American poet Matthew Rohrer.[3][9]

Dunham was a contributing writer for the student weekly The College Hill Independent in Providence, Rhode Island.[10]

Writing and activism

Dunham is involved in a collaborative relationship with transgender activist Reina Gosset; her work together includes public speaking, writing and performance.[11][12][13][14]

Dunham has contributed articles to The New Yorker,[15] and catalog essays for Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and Mythologies at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives,[16]UNCOUNTED: Call & Response at Vienna Secession,[17] and Nicole Eisenman's AL-UGH-ORIES at the New Museum, amongst others. In November 2015 Dunham interviewed transgender rights activist Janet Mock for Buzzfeed's Women Of The Hour podcast.[18]

In 2015, Dunham presented the talk "Why Am I Valuable?" during a panel at the Frieze Art Fair in New York.[1] The talk begins:

Some things about me are that I’m white, that I have relatively famous parents, and that my sister is a celebrity. I also have a vagina, which makes people think I’m a woman. I have an intimate relationship with a black trans activist, Reina, who by being in a public collaborative relationship with me validates my perspective and—despite my whiteness, my class, and my proximity to fame—makes my critique of power seem legitimate in ways it otherwise might not. In other words, as a commodity, I have power through my associations with social capital; in addition, I hold a set of marginalized identities which give me intellectual authority and increased use-value in contexts seeking "diversity."

In 2016, Dunham published her first collected of poetry and short essays titled The Fool. The publication is a free, online-only "web-book" published by Curse of Cherifa.[19][20]

Film work

Dunham's first film appearance was in the 2006 short Dealing as June, a 13-year-old art dealer.[21]Dealing was written and directed by Dunham's older sister, Lena.

Dunham later starred in the 2010 feature film Tiny Furniture as Nadine, the younger sister of Aura, played by Lena, who also wrote and directed the film. Tiny Furniture, which also featured Lena and Grace's real-life mother Laurie Simmons, was shot at the family's actual home in New York's Tribeca neighborhood[22] and the three characters portrayed by Grace, Lena, and their mother are based loosely on themselves.[23]

Dunham stars as Junior in the forthcoming film Happy Birthday, Marsha! about the transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the hours before the Stonewall riots.[24] Dunham also appeared in artist A.K. Burns' multi-channel video installation A Smeary Spot.[25]


Passages in Lena's memoir Not That Kind of Girl which recount childhood interactions between then seven-year-old Lena and then one-year-old Grace attracted controversy when some commentators perceived them to be overly sexual. Experts described these passages as either too ambiguous to judge, or as describing behavior consistent with normal childhood development.[26][27][28] Grace publicly rejected claims by media commentators that the behavior was harmful.[29] On November 3, 2014, Grace responded to these claims over Twitter, saying:

As a queer person: i'm committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful / heteronormativity deems certain behaviours harmful, and others "normal"; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that / 2day, like every other day, is a good day to think about how we police the sexualities of young women, queer, and trans people[30]


  1. ^ "Grace Dunham - The New Yorker". The New Yorker. 
  2. ^ Asked & Answered | Laurie Simmons. The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c "Tiny Furniture Press Kit from IFC Films" (PDF) (Press release). p. 7. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ Morgan Falconer. About this artist: Carroll Dunham. The Museum of Modern Art.
  5. ^ About Laurie Simmons. Art in the Twenty First Century, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
  6. ^ Anderson, Jenny (July 20, 2010). "At St. Ann’s, Increased Stability, but Also Controversy". The New York Times. para. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ Daum, Meghan (September 10, 2014). "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ Weinstein, Michael (April 16, 2010). "Big names from big screen visit College Hill". The Brown Daily Herald. para. 4. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Grace Dunham - Poetry Society of America". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ Issue #3 - The Y
  11. ^ "Touch One Another - talk by Reina Gossett & Grace Dunham - Reina Gossett". Reina Gossett. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  12. ^ "Talking with Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham About Everyday Activism and Why Empathy is Everything | Autostraddle". Autostraddle. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  13. ^ "Grace Dunham - The Fool". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  14. ^ "Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends & Mythologies | ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  15. ^ Grace Dunham. The New Yorker
  16. ^ "Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects: Legends and... - Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art". Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art. 
  17. ^ "Uncounted : Emily Roysdon". 
  18. ^ "Grace Dunham Interviewed Janet Mock And It Was Really Wonderful". BuzzFeed. 
  19. ^ "Grace Dunham - The Fool". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  20. ^ "Curse of Cherifa". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  21. ^ Musetto, V.A. (November 6, 2010). "All in the family". New York Post. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ Moore, Lorrie (March 27, 2012). "Lena Dunham: Unwatchable in the Best Way". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  23. ^ Dollar, Steve (November 5, 2010). "'Tiny' Voice Makes Loud Noise". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2016)". IMDb. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ McDonald, Soraya Nadia (November 3, 2014). "Lena Dunham responds to sites accusing her of sexually abusing her sister". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  27. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "Child therapists: Stop freaking out about Lena Dunham". Salon (November 4, 2014). Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  28. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (November 6, 2014). "Lena Dunham: Sexual abuse or sexual exploration?". USA Today (Gannett). Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  29. ^ Lena Dunham's sister, Grace, defends sex stories. USA Today, 5 November 2014
  30. ^ Thomas, Bradford (29 October 2014). "Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister". TruthRevolt. David Horowitz Freedom Center. Retrieved 8 June 2016.