You’ve probably heard the name Hunter Schaefer before, and if you haven’t you should definitely learn it. She’s only 20 years old and already a star on the rise in the worlds of modeling, acting, and maybe most important especially in this day in age, LGBTQ rights.
Schafer is a trans woman who stars as Jules in HBO’s brand new series Euphoria where she’s also playing a trans teenager who’s just transferred to a new school. Much like everyone else on Euphoria, Jules gets into some rather difficult to watch scenes that are sure to have audiences talking — but maybe for the right reasons. Even in 2019, it’s rare to see trans characters on screen, and even rarer for them to actually be played by transgender actors (GLAAD's survey of 2017 and 2018 media found only 17 trans characters in all of television — a measly five percent).
On the show, it’s clear that Schafer’s character, Jules, is just looking for some sort of escape and she, unfortunately, finds it hooking up with much older men in the town, giving herself over to them in hoping that they’ll be pleased. She eventually starts a friendship with Zendaya’s Rue, as the two grow closer and closer together, now leaning on each other. Even though she’s now got at least one ally in Rue, Jules is still bullied at school and often viewed as an outcast.
In real life, Schafer a lot more vocal about speaking up for herself, and others, and as you dive into the drug-fueled world of Euphoria, here’s what you need to know about the actress.
She prefers mostly non-gendered pronouns
She sued the state of North Carolina over a discriminatory bill
Back in 2017, North Carolina signed into law a bill that stated that you could only use the bathroom of the sex assigned to you at birth, and that was on your birth certificate — not one's gender identity. If you were legally identified by the state as man but personally identified as a woman, you would still be required to use the male restroom. Schafer openly opposed the bill, and wrote an essay in I-D about the dangers that it would cause for the whole transgender community, explaining:
“While some trans people might be able to avoid the consequences of breaking the law — because they pass as a cisgender man or woman — much of the community risks being profiled, facing harassment, and potentially violence. The bill doesn't just present external dangers either; the internal detriment that trans individuals endure, by being forced into facilities and boxes in which they don't belong, is excruciatingly painful.”
Schafer was later a plaintiff in the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) lawsuit against the House Bill 2, which was commonly known as. The bill was later partially repealed amid extensive backlash and boycotts of the stage.
She’s a sought-after model and already been on magazine covers
Schafer made her New York Fashion Week debut in 2018, and has modeled for Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, and Marc Jacobs.
You’ve maybe seen her work in Rookie
She was going to study fashion design... and then Euphoria happened
In a New York Times interview in May 2018, Schafer said she had plans to attend Central Saint Martins in London to study nonbinary clothing design. However, after she landed Euphoria she put those plans on hold but hopes to return to them, and soon. Explaining to Dazed, “I’ve exerted so much of my creative energy through acting this past six months, it’ll feel refreshing to return to working with my hands."
If she does go to fashion school, she's probably going to have a few fans before she even arrives.