WOMEN
07/16/2013 12:26 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2013

'Girls' Writer Sarah Heyward Talks Working With Lena Dunham And Success At Aspen Ideas Festival

Few shows have generated the caliber of enthusiasm (and opposition) that "Girls" inspires every episode. But while Lena Dunham is undoubtedly the face of the show -- and therefore shoulders the bulk of viewers' criticism and praise -- she hardly works alone.

Sarah Heyward, the Executive Story Editor of "Girls," sat down with HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin at the Aspen Ideas Festival, to discuss the meaning of success and revealing what it's like to work with Lena Dunham to produce such groundbreaking television.

Heyward described how HBO's lack of censorship allows Dunham and the entire writing staff -- who treat the writers' room like "a therapy session" and create a "really warm, really trusting environment" -- to produce an accurate depiction of what it's like to be a 20-something girl today.

Heyward attributes the show's freshness and innovation, however, to Dunham. "Lena is so creative and so brilliant that so far it hasn't been hard to keep ["Girls"] fresh at all...[Lena's] growing up as she writes this, so she continues to draw on her own experiences and her friends' experiences," Heyward told HuffPost Live.

But while "Girls" focuses on the trials of 20-something women, the fact remains that Heyward and Dunham, 20-somethings themselves, are hardly struggling. So what does success mean to someone who has achieved so much at such a young age -- and works closely with one of the most accomplished young women of her generation? Heyward told HuffPost Live:

It’s hard to feel really young and successful when you’re hanging out with Lena Dunham all the time, because she’s younger and way more successful and amazing and deserves every ounce of it, but I’ve always defined success more as like happiness, personal fulfillment. My grandparents are 88, they’re my best friends, they’ve been together since they were 15 and they are success to me. Just like living happily, they don’t need tons of money, they don’t even need tons of other people around … to me, that is success.

This video is part of a series of interviews with speakers, attendees and panelists at The Aspen Ideas Festival, produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with The Aspen Institute. For more videos from the series, click here. For more information about The Aspen Institute, click here.

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