Greta Celeste Gerwig was born in Sacramento, California, to Christine Gerwig (née Sauer), a nurse, and Gordon Gerwig, a financial consultant and computer programmer. She has German, Irish, and English ancestry. Gerwig was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, but also attended an all-girls Catholic school. She has described herself as “an intense child”. With an early interest in dance, she intended to get a degree in musical theatre in New York. She graduated from Barnard College in NY, where she studied English and philosophy, instead.
Originally intending to become a playwright, after meeting young film director Joe Swanberg, she became the star of a series of intellectual low budget movies made by first-time filmmakers, a trend dubbed “mumblecore”. Gerwig was cast in a minor role in Swanberg’s LOL (2006) in 2006, while still studying at Barnard. She then appeared in many of Swanberg’s films, and personally co-directed, co-wrote and co-produced one entitled Nights and Weekends (2008). She has worked with good quality directors such as Ti West (The House of the Devil (2009)), Whit Stillman (Damsels in Distress (2011)), or Woody Allen (To Rome with Love (2012)) but success and (international) recognition did not come until Frances Ha (2012), directed by Noah Baumbach, a film she also co-wrote. Both tall and immature, awkward and graceful, blundering and candid, annoying and engaging, Greta has won all hearts in the title role of Frances Ha(liday).
In 2017, she wrote and directed the highly acclaimed, semi-autobiographical teen movie Lady Bird (2017), set in 2002-2003, and starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Timothée Chalamet. In 2011, Gerwig received an award for Acting from the Athena Film Festival for her artistry as one of Hollywood’s definitive screen actresses of her generation.