HBO's recent foray into teen drama has been generating a lot of buzz for the premium cable network, owing largely to the fervent discussions of its explicit teen sex and drug use. The new series boasts tons of recognizable young stars, like Zendaya, Maude Apatow, and Storm Reid. But other actors, like Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules on Euphoria, are making their small screen debuts.
Schafer is a 20-year-old model with a lengthy resumé — she's walked in Coach and Dior fashion shows, as well as modeled for fashion houses like Miu Miu, Helmut Lang, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, and Marc Jacobs. But Schafer is probably most recognizable as the face of a lawsuit against North Carolina's HB2, known colloquially as the state's infamous "bathroom bill." As the youngest plaintiff in the case, according to a W Magazine profile, Schafer argued that North Carolina's Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act — mandating, among other things, that individuals must use gendered public restrooms in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth — was discriminatory toward the transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming population.
At the time, she was a 17-year-old student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ high school program. Later that year, she went on to write essays about her experience for Teen Vogue and i-D.
Schafer was eventually named one of Teen Vogue's 21 Under 21 in 2017, and got to interview Hillary Clinton, along with her fellow 21 Under 21 nominees. In the interview, she not only pressed Clinton on the subject of public school accommodations for trans kids — demanding to know, "How can we as a society and even on institutional levels ensure the safety and comfort of gender-nonconforming students and children as they continue to come out?" — but she also quizzed the former presidential nominee on climate change.
"I wanted to address how climate change is affected by corporations and industries — particularly the food and drug industries — and how that is connected to our own government on a financial and social level," she told Clinton. "I’m wondering if you think we can create change through the government or if it needs to happen on a more social level?"
Schafer is equally thoughtful and articulate when she's the subject of an interview, too. In addition to her W Magazine profile for her work with the ACLU, the New York Times Style section featured her for making the jump from activism to modeling with grace.
Euphoria is generating a ton of debate for what many say is a shocking depiction of teen sexuality. But the show's creative maintains that Euphoria is an accurate depiction of what it's like to be a teen in 2019, and telling those stories with authenticity is the show's goal. Needless to say, including a trans character and giving a trans model the opportunity to cross over into television proves that at least on some level the show is in touch with the culture. And if the rest of the cast is anything like Schafer, they're clearly mature enough to navigate what comes next.