Gerwig tells Lazarus that she has reread her application since and still stands behind her work.
"I recently went back and read the play that I had submitted and I thought I was going to have that thing where you look back at something you wrote and you think, 'Oh this was terrible. I understand.' And I still thought it was pretty good," says Gerwig wryly.
"It was funny! It was a play about Kant and Newton as 13-year-old boys trying to date girls and debating the nature of space, and it's really funny. I don't know, I think they made a mistake."
Even though she jokes about deserving a spot in one of these prestigious programs, the string of rejections turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Gerwig.
Instead of enrolling in graduate school, Gerwig began acting in low-budget independent "mumblecore" films such as "Hannah Takes the Stairs" and "Baghead." In 2008, Gerwig starred in and co-directed "Nights and Weekends," a similarly low-budget project.
Through these experiences, she gained the skills necessary to be a successful director and says that being an actress was her own "DIY film school."
"I've wanted to be a writer-director for a long time but because I didn't go to film school, I sort of did it on set," she tells Jimmy Fallon. "When I was acting or co-writing or producing I was figuring out how you get a movie from page to it being released."