Euphoria's Breakout Star Hunter Schafer On Her Hopes For A New Era In Hollywood
Following the success of her acting debut alongside Zendaya as Jules Vaughn in Euphoria, Hunter Schafer reveals how her own life experiences helped shape the show that got everyone talking
Hunter Schafer blazed on to our screens in HBO’s groundbreaking teen TV series Euphoria, touching audiences worldwide through her portrayal of Jules, a 17-year-old trans femme. “She’s in high school and is navigating sexual escapades with older men, and trying to search for something less toxic,” explains Schafer. At just 20-years-old, the actor’s rise to fame as part of creator Sam Levinson’s no-holds-barred portrayal of modern American teenage life has been nothing short of meteoric. “I’m really new to this industry. I’m still kind of learning how everything works and the system, but I mean, I can’t say I’ve seen someone portray a character like my character on Euphoria,” she adds.
Vogue caught up with the actor at the Venice Film Festival, where she took part in a candid panel discussion in celebration of Miu Miu’s influential Women’s Tales film series revealing, in her own words, what opportunities there are for trans actors in Hollywood, and how she is striving for a healthier relationship with social media.
On opportunities for trans actors:
“This is my first time acting in Euphoria, so I’m really interested in just trying it again and seeing what happens. I don’t know if there are that many more roles of trans women that are for me. I feel like there is a place where I might be able to play cis roles and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about and [have been] conscious of as I enter the industry. I’m really excited about acting now and want to do more of it. There are so many talented trans women out there who have worlds inside themselves that deserve to be part of the filmmaking world, and we’re very capable of playing any acting role. So, yeah, [it’s] something that’s been on my mind, and it’s weird because it still feels like new territory for the industry.”
On how her own life experiences impacted Euphoria:
“The director/creator of Euphoria Sam Levinson is absolutely incredible. HBO kept me in LA for a few extra days just so we could sit down in a cafe and work through our lives together and see what kind of puzzle we could form — he essentially puts himself in all the characters as well, so it’s figuring out how we all fit together. As a man in the industry, it’s a responsibility you have when you hire talent with lived experiences you might not be able to identify with. He [Sam Levinson] is an incredible collaborator, and it made it all the more immersive to bring myself into [the character of] Jules as well.”
On cis actresses playing trans women on screen:
“In an ideal world, in a vacuum, anybody should be able to. The concept of acting could be applied to everybody. As far as the structure of the world right now and the sort of hierarchies that exist, I don’t think it’s justifiable until hierarchies are gone or levelled out.”
On social media:
“I think about it all the time because it’s such a surreal space, and I’ve had to take some distance from it recently for my head. But it’s a tool, and it’s so powerful and a lot can be done with it. It’s a matter of how much, and how we do that on a space such as Instagram, which I don’t think was intended for this kind of world-building and this momentum-building. It’s really strange how you can be scrolling and see selfies and puppies, and then death and violence and how those can exist right next to each other and how we internalise everything, which makes me question if Instagram or social media is the right place for that.”