Hunter Schafer plays a main character on one of HBO’s new shows, Euphoria, their answer to teenage audiences. Schafer had previously found fame as a trans activist and model, posing for campaigns including Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs. HBO hopes they can convince young audiences to sit down in front of a conventional television rather than looking for short-form entertainment on small screens through platforms like YouTube and Instagram. It just so happens that their star, Schafer, initially found solace, and then fame through those very same apps.
According to IMDb, Euphoria is supposed to give audiences an inside look at the emotional turmoil endured by the high schoolers of Gen Z. Schafer plays Jules, a character who, like herself is trans, opposite the other main star Zendaya, who plays Rue, a recovering addict. Speaking with Variety, Schafer says she didn’t mean to become an actress but happened upon it at her agent’s suggestion. Before she knew it, she was filming a pilot for a major network series.
Schafer embraced the role as something familiar, a trans character who is multifaceted. This is not often shown on screen as usually the plot around a trans character is them coming to terms with being trans. In Euphoria, Jules is secure in her sexual identity, she’s just struggling to date, something that most high schoolers can relate to, just not on Jules’s level. Schafer says, “There need[s] to be more roles where trans people aren’t just dealing with being trans, [but that] they’re being trans while dealing with other issues. We’re so much more complex than just one identity.”
Schafer draws from her own experience when preparing for the role of Jules. Show creator Sam Levinson personally collaborates with her to make sure the story being told on screen is something that Schafer and others will find relatable. Schafer says, “All the complications that come with being trans and queer simultaneously, as far as that being something the public is going to see; that’s really exciting to me, because that story will be accessible. But what’s also exciting is that it’s not about that at all.” Schafer is most excited for the representation the character of Jules will bring for future trans youth and the normalization of trans characters as full-fledged individuals and not just story arcs. Growing up Schafer says she had to turn to the internet for images of trans people, she says, “[I] would go to YouTube and watch people’s transition timelines and see myself on a screen.”
Euphoria airs at 10pm on Sundays on all HBO platforms.