The Untold Truth Of Hunter Schafer

The following article includes mentions of mental health struggles and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

As a lead on HBO's "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer is often involved in pretty high-stakes situations. Her character, high school trans student Jules, is even partly based on her real-life experiences. "As we worked through different scenes, I'd have to remember a new detail, to dig up an artifact from within myself, and hold onto that moment for the scene," Schafer explained to V Magazine in 2020. Beyond this hit series, the rising star is expanding her talents to different forms of media. 

Set to make her film debut in the upcoming "Cuckoo," Schafer practiced guitar and becoming comfortable with a knife in preparation for her horror movie role. In late 2021, she also revealed plans to direct a music video, according to Harper's Bazaar, the details of which are being kept under wraps, as of this writing. Though Schafer is involved in multiple types of entertainment, her career path would have looked different had it not been for her breakout role on "Euphoria." She has long been an active voice for Gen Z, however, with a history of standing up for others. And while the spotlight and the pressures of fame and success at such a young age have at times been difficult to navigate, this star has fortunately proven every time that she can create euphoria (we had to) for her fans. 

This is the untold truth of Hunter Schafer.

Inside Hunter Schafer's childhood

Hunter Schafer grew up in New Jersey and Arizona before settling in North Carolina. Her hometown was conservative in many ways, especially given the future star's grand aspirations. "Everything I was interested in was happening in big cities. And it's all I wanted, all the time. ... I had these really vivid dreams of what I wanted to achieve," Schafer told i-D in February 2022. Her family was religious — Schafer's dad was a pastor — and were active members in their local congregations. Of her own religious views, the actor explained to Allure, "I do feel spiritual in some senses. That's something pretty fluid."

With three younger siblings, Schafer grew up in a bedroom with lime-green-painted walls, but she seldom lets out many details about her upbringing. Even her "Euphoria" co-star, Zendaya, found it difficult to learn about Schafer's earliest days, reportedly once telling her, per Harper's Bazaar, "You never talk about your childhood." Part of the reason for limiting the information might be due to the emotions it evokes for Schafer, as she admitted, "I cry every time I talk about my mother." However, her childhood journals showcase the wide range of experiences she encountered, like when she was "first transitioning," "falling in love for the first time," and truly started to become herself as a teenager. 

Calling this "a phenomenon among the trans and queer community," Schafer explained to Harper's Bazaar, "I feel like the story of my life begins in my late teens, when I was finally living in the world the way I was supposed to."

What was the Euphoria star's dream career?

"I always wanted to be an artist," Hunter Schafer told Allure. She had a special interest in reading comics from a young age and continued to like them as she grew older. For example, she referred to the animated TV series "Teen Titans" and likened her "Euphoria" character of Jules to Raven, a cartoon superhero on the show. Schafer was even talented enough to start making comics professionally, as she used to contribute to the teen magazine "Rookie" by writing articles and providing comics and other illustrations for the publication, per Harper's Bazaar.

On "Euphoria," Jules draws illustrations — but these are actually Schafer's own creations. In an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" the titular host showed one of these impressive sketches, and she revealed that particular inspiration came while sitting in casting rooms in New York City. The actor admitted her "goal" was to be a professional artist, adding, "And then 'Euphoria' happened." She also used to create her own comics as a kid, like a superhero called "Art Boy" who used his magic giant pencil to draw things that would then materialize. "I grew up on comic books. That used to be my dream job ... comic book illustrator." 

Revealing how her dad's own love of the DC Comics universe — especially Aquaman — helped her appreciate the genre as a child, among her favorite superheroes were Hawkwoman and the Green Lantern. "I just loved those worlds," Schafer told W magazine.

She was part of a human rights lawsuit

North Carolina made news in the worst kind of way in 2016 after it passed House Bill 2, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Also referred to as a "bathroom bill," per The New York Times, within the act were rules that prohibited "transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people." This prompted a joint lawsuit between the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, which included several plaintiffs from the state, the youngest being Hunter Schafer, according to Harper's Bazaar

"I did this not only in the hope of reversing it but also to represent other transgender youth in North Carolina who are as hurt as I am, and to raise awareness and acceptance for transgender individuals," Schafer wrote in a Teen Vogue article. She also detailed her personal experiences with using school restrooms, writing, "As a 17-year-old transgender girl who began transitioning at 14, I've been wrestling with my gender ever since I was a child. At school, I've become accustomed to using the women's restroom, where I feel safest and most comfortable." She further stated that the "new law ... rejects all of this."

The following year, the state's governor signed a repeal of HB2, but many felt it still fell far short of a full repeal, per The New York Times. In 2019, federal courts banned the laws from HB2 and a similar law, HB142, from targeting trans and non-binary people, according to the ACLU.

Hunter Schafer is talented in many ways

Hunter Schafer secured her spot in the University of North Carolina School of the Arts when she was 16 years old, per Allure. At the prestigious high school, she quickly became known for both her smarts and her story. For example, the future actor talked to WUNC 91.5 about her experiences transitioning, especially when the state was under scrutiny for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ+ people. "I'm proud to be a trans person," Schafer said at the time. 

For her academic performance, Schafer was a 2017 semifinalist as a visual artist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts program. "Hunter Schafer is an artist of exceptional promise," her UNCSA high school provost said. That same year, she was a finalist in the YoungArts competition, which earned her a monetary prize in addition to national recognition. As a previous winner of the National YoungArts Foundation, Schafer went on to mentor younger winners of the coveted award.

Later, when Schafer was (quite understandably) selected as a member of Teen Vogue's annual 21 under 21 list — made up of influential young adults under the age of 21 — in 2017, she and the four other nominees had the chance to interview Hillary Clinton. Based on her own experiences, Schafer asked the politician for advice on "how ... we as a society and even on institutional levels [can] ensure the safety and comfort of gender-nonconforming students and children as they continue to come out." Schafer followed up with a question for Clinton about how to address climate change socially and governmentally.

How the actor landed the role of Jules

Hunter Schafer had no intention of becoming an actor, but then she discovered an intriguing casting call for a new TV series. "I'd heard that other trans models were doing it, so I was interested," she told Vogue. Schafer received an invite to audition for the role even though she had no previous acting credits. In fact, she'd had completely different career plans "until this role came up and turned [her] whole life upside down." Admittedly shy, Schafer went to read for the part and impressed producers. After receiving several callbacks, she said, "I got a few scenes and then more and more of the script, until I had the first four episodes [of 'Euphoria']."

Already a veteran actor despite her young age, co-star Zendaya explained how impressed she was with Schafer's performances. "I remember watching behind the camera and knowing that something had clicked," Zendaya told Harper's Bazaar. She added that Schafer "just took whatever pain she had, and she translated it into such a beautiful performance." For her part, Schafer said she was mainly just channeling her own experiences and could relate many of her own experiences to those of Jules. In Schafer's opinion, some of the best acting involved "blurred lines between an actor and a character."

Despite Schafer's intense performance and critical praise, per Vulture, her portrayal of Jules unfortunately didn't earn her a 2020 Emmy nomination. Many fans felt she and other trans or non-binary actors were snubbed by the award ceremony, according to Paper.

Hunter Schafer is open about her mental health

Hunter Schafer revealed that she started going to therapy after she began working on "Euphoria." She worked with her therapist to come up with visualization techniques and other methods to cope with the stress that comes from playing with a character like Jules with so much intensity. As a result of the different skills she learned from therapy, Schafer was better able to handle the wide range of emotions experienced while filming the TV series. "I would be crying on set for eight hours and then be able to objectively look at the dailies, like, 'Yeah, this is the right shot,'" Schafer recalled to Harper's Bazaar.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on Schafer, who admitted the state of the world took a negative toll on her mental health. She began researching mental hospitals in her home state of North Carolina. However, her research only made Schafer more frustrated because all of the facilities she found had negative user reviews. The actor recalled telling her experience to "Euphoria" creator Sam Levinson, who had another suggestion, leading the two to team up and create a special episode of the TV series with mental health as a major theme. 

"I wrote the episode instead of going to that kind of institution," Schafer said of the cathartic, healing experience on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in January 2021 (via HelloGiggles). However, she also clarified to the audience, "I think mental hospitals are great if you need to go to them."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The fashionable side of Hunter Schafer

If it weren't for acting, fans of Hunter Schafer might be talking about her newest collection instead of talking about her onscreen performances. Originally, Schafer planned to attend the Central Saint Martins school in London to study fashion design. She took a gap year after high school "so that I could go model and make some money and immerse myself in the fashion industry for a year," Schafer told Vogue. Though she never made it to the school after her acting career took off, the multi-talent revealed to Interview magazine, "I used to want to be a fashion designer, I still do. ... Hopefully someday."

Though the scriptwriters already planned outfits for Jules in "Euphoria," producers noticed Schafer's impressive personal style. She began to work with the show's costume designer Heidi Bivens and would make mood boards for the series. "Heidi and I were just constantly sending each other references and photos and general guides that we think Jules could inhabit so it was really collaborative," Schafer explained to The New York Times about her character's clothing.

Schafer has a history of making mood boards for different projects. For example, she used the photos by the late designer Alexander McQueen — a favorite of Kate Middleton — on her inspiration mood board prior to attending the prestigious Met Gala in 2021, per Harper's Bazaar. For the event, Schafer showed up with contacts that made her eyes appear entirely white, plus a jeweled brooch by Evangeline AdaLioryn on her face.

The actor has opened up about her gender and sexuality

In 2016, long before her debut on "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer was already in the public eye for sharing her experiences when it came to transitioning as a teen growing up in North Carolina. Participating in a Q&A session with WUNC 91.5, the star revealed how she initially came out as gay to her parents in seventh grade. "So they were beginning to understand where I stood as to where my sexual orientation was at the time. But gender identity was still a very separate thing from that," Schafer explained. That same school year, the actor remembered, "I came to terms with the idea that maybe I wasn't a boy," and noted how her parents were also supportive in her gender identity journey.

Schafer later wrote a moving article for i-D, noting of the transgender and non-binary community, "We are on the forefront of a revolution in which identity and expression will take priority over the labels assigned to us at birth." In Schafer's opinion, she envisions a future where "self-identification will take priority over perception. In which gender will fall away entirely." As such, the star has since revealed that she uses she/her or they/them pronouns, per Out.

As for her sexuality, Schafer wrote in a since-deleted tweet in December 2021 (via Pink News), "I would like to vaguely clarify that unfortunately I am like bi or pan or something."

Hunter Schafer's thoughts on Zendaya

In "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer's character is best friends (and sometimes more) with Rue, played by Zendaya. On screen, the two characters experience all the emotions of teenage years, and these often-intense scenes link both their characters and the actors in real life. Though Schafer came into the series as an unknown actor while Zendaya was already a star on TV through the Disney Channel, as well as in movies like "Spider-Man: Homecoming," the two quickly bonded. 

"She's amazing," Schafer told The New York Times about Zendaya. She explained how she spent the most time filming with Zendaya for the first season of "Euphoria," and added, "I just feel so lucky to come out of this experience with a new best friend." Schafer even hangs out with Zendaya outside of filming "Euphoria" — like when the MCU star invited her on set as she worked on "Spider-Man: No Way Home," as Schafer detailed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2022.

For her part, Zendaya told Harper's Bazaar about Schafer, "What we do for a living is important but the friendship we share is more important." This includes sometimes sharing clothes. For example, Schafer was once spotted wearing one of Zendaya's designer hooded sweatshirts. The two are close enough for casual nicknames, too — Schafer calls her co-star "Z" for short, or even "boob" or "boobies." As she revealed in a video for i-D, the two actors affectionately refer to each other with these nicknames, saying of the terms, "It's endearing, you know?"

Who is the Euphoria star dating?

Prior to her debut on "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer reportedly dated fellow model Massima Desire between 2018 and 2020, at least according to Who's Dated Who. While we can't confirm that particular rumored romance, Schafer has more recently been linked to her HBO co-star, Dominic Fike. In January 2022, the two actors were spotted holding hands at a West Hollywood restaurant, per Page Six, with insiders claiming Schafer and Fike enjoyed dinner together, in addition to "kissing" and "dancing." Around this time, the duo took their apparently blossoming romance to the social media sphere.

That February, Fike shared a photo on his Instagram Stories of the two sharing a kiss over what appeared to be a romantic dinner. "Happy birthday happy birthday," read the sweet post's caption (via People), which likely referred to the fact that both were born in the month of December. In fact, Schafer's birthday is on New Year's Eve. As the actor explained on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" she never has to worry about planning parties because there are so many options around the holidays. Even more fortunately for Schafer? Her party of two with Fike appeared to be extra special.

In another charming moment from around this time, Schafer seemed to have heart eyes for Fike during their press tour for "Euphoria." During a joint Zoom interview, Fike talked about joining the original cast members in Season 2. "They're just wonderful people," he said, while Schafer had a huge smile on her face, as captured by Entertainment Tonight.

All about Hunter Schafer's glamorous first career

Hunter Schafer moved to New York City in 2017 from North Carolina to be a part of all the action in the fashion industry. The rising star took up modeling and quickly found success with some of the most famous names in fashion: Displaying her versatility, Schafer walked in the gothic-themed clothing of Rick Owens, strutted down the runway for classy French brand Dior, and showed off outfits for the experimental Italian brand Miu Miu, per Harper's Bazaar

Though she paused her modeling career to become an actor, Schafer never really left the scene, because of how closely the two professions are often intertwined. For example, she returned to the runway as a model for the late fashion icon Thierry Mugler in 2021. "As far as the show goes, that was a dream," Schafer told fashion designer Gogo Graham in an interview for W magazine. Another highlight in her career was walking on the runway for Helmet Lang. Schafer said on social media that the experience was "exquisite, highly artistic, and appropriately gender-f***ed, leaving me feeling more at home than I have felt at any other fashion function" (via W magazine).

In February 2022, Schafer surprised audiences when she walked down the runway yet again during New York Fashion week for Gogo Graham, Nylon reported. For her particular look, the star wore a black-and-white dress with a thick weave pattern over yellow pants. For accessories, Schafer rocked Japanese-inspired sandals with socks and carried a yellow teddy bear around her wrist.

What's life in Los Angeles like for the multitalented star?

After landing the role of Jules in "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer packed up her life and career in New York City to relocate to the West Coast. "HBO moved her into a West Hollywood apartment with views of HBO's studios so that she could walk to work," according to Allure. Though Schafer admitted she still has friends in New York from the earlier part of her career, she told Harper's Bazaar that also loved "[her] 'Euphoria' family," as well as "the community [she's] found in Los Angeles." This included pet-sitting a French bulldog for one of her friends, especially for a bit of joy while filming the drama.

Schafer admitted that life in Los Angeles has also helped her grow as an artist outside of acting. "It's cool how to see how my creative juices have shown themselves when they're not being used for 'Euphoria' every day," she explained to Vogue. "I'm trying to find a new rhythm as to how I'm going to externalize my artistic energies. It's a moment of re-formation," Schafer added. 

This has included multiple projects, like experimenting with being a DJ, per W magazine. Partly due to being isolated in her apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Schafer also became interested in screenwriting. To aid in her writing prowess, the actor — who also used a skateboard to get around places, as she revealed to Allure — enrolled in an online class on writing scripts for TV taught by the legendary Shonda Rhimes.

Hunter Schafer loves the open road

When she's not hanging with Zendaya or working on "Euphoria," Hunter Schafer has a particular affinity for traveling. For example, she enjoys driving in the mountains of North Carolina. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Schafer had an urgent desire for wanderlust. So, she started a road trip from Los Angeles to North Carolina in a new truck. 

"It was probably the most stable I felt throughout all of quarantine," Schafer told Allure about her cross-country journey. "I just had one objective, which [was] stay on the road and follow the map and drive. And it was great," the star added. In addition to visiting her sister in her home state, Schafer visited multiple sites along the way, like her preschool in Arizona and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. 

Schafer used many of her experiences as inspiration for various creative projects. "I definitely brought my watercolor, sketchbook, and ink," the actor revealed to Vanity Fair about the road trip. Plus, Schafer explored photography. "I also made the intention to have a bunch of disposable cameras on me. I got really into working with film over that trip, and I kind of photographed my way across the country, which was fun," she said. Schafer also used the road trip to experiment with her personal style. By day, she would casually wear a t-shirt in the car only to dress up at night with various makeup styles, saying, "I even got into a little lipstick."

The different ways the actor helps others

Hunter Schafer is an important voice for her generation and has been a champion for others since even before becoming a celebrity. However, the star has downplayed that she's an activist, even though the media often portrays her as one. She believes she's primarily an actor because an activist is "a community organizer who is working every day and directly with community members, and making it a job to take care of and speak up for a community in some way," as Schafer told The New York Times. Instead, she noted how she was simply "vocal about [her] identity sometimes." 

That said, the actor is certainly not afraid to go up against politicians, telling W magazine, "It's not just the lawmakers who are making the decisions. It's a social structure that's being upheld by them." Schafer has also been active during the Black Lives Matter movement. To show her support, Schafer has posted information about organizations and ways to donate through her social media pages. Specifically, she urged her followers to support For The Gworls and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, two organizations assisting Black transgender people. 

"I feel like with a lot of white celebrities in particular who do benefit from their whiteness and white supremacy, and by proxy the oppression of Black people, they need to be speaking in these moments or to be active in some way," Schafer told Allure. In her opinion, one of the best ways to show support is "allocating funds to the right people."

How does Hunter Schafer spend her earnings?

Though Hunter Schafer's bank account sum is unknown, as of this writing, the actor has several income streams that contribute to her net worth. In addition to her performance on "Euphoria," Schafer has appeared in numerous campaigns as a model. Many of the biggest names in fashion have photographed Schafer, including Versace, as Dazed reported. In 2021, she starred in a video for the Italian luxury brand Prada, and she was previously utilized in the cosmetic industry through Marc Jacobs Beauty, per the Los Angeles Times. In fact, as previously mentioned, modeling used to be Schafer's primary source of income. 

"I was only modeling in New York just really to be making some money," she explained on "The A24 Podcast" (via Yahoo! Life). Noting that acting "was not in my plan at all," Schafer explained she instead wanted to be in the fashion industry. As a lover of fashion, then, the star has purchased cool pieces of clothing to add to her collection, such as merchandise from rapper Megan Thee Stallion. "She had this shirt of her and two other girls in anime form, with swords and s***. It was sickening. It's one of my favorite shirts right now," Schafer told W magazine.

It was the perfect combination of her love of music and passion for comics since childhood, which she noted "evolved into an interest in anime, then manga" in her teens. These days, Schafer can easily afford the tools to make her own cartoons, like those shared on Instagram from her personal sketchbooks, per L'Officiel.