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Arca I am so happy to be interviewing you. [But] honestly, [also] freaked out that you were into the idea…

Hunter Schafer I am so excited to talk to you!

A It feels really serendipitous, because when I watched Euphoria…Your first scene, with Jules using the syringe [for hormone injections]…I was screaming so hard because I had never seen that on TV before, with proper production and cinematography. That was so moving and beautiful.

HS Oh my god, thank you so much. I mean, I’ve literally been listening to you since high school. Your sound so specifically represents my experience… “Saunter” is one of my favorite songs!

A I love that you know that song by name. Most people don’t bring it up! [Speaking of experience], I heard Jules was based on you. Is that right?

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HS Yeah, that is correct!

A How was that? Transitioning is such a personal experience. Was there something redeeming about sharing it, and maybe demystifying it?

HS Yeah, right! It didn’t feel natural at first. Part of surviving [that] experience was just, like, getting through shit. Letting it rest, and not addressing it. I think that’s what I had been [doing] up to that point: just going and going, fighting to be on the other side of my transition. There was so much that I was working towards, and I was so excited to [be out of] North Carolina that I don’t think I’d ever looked back on [that experience].

A Wow! So powerful.

HS Very. That’s what felt unnatural, I was like, “Oh shit.” And remembering things that I hadn’t thought about until [that point]. That happened throughout the entire season: 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. I imagine you do that in your work.

A That’s one way acting and making music could be similar: No matter how personal [it is] to you, there’s always this weird, speculative aspect to it. So it’s personal but not that personal; [For example] a love song can be about one person, but it can also be about multiple people.

HS That’s a mood… I think [the process of acting] can also be like writing a letter to someone—combining experiences that have a common thread.

A That reminds me of this interview with [science fiction writer] Octavia Butler—do you know her? I think you’d be into it. I’ll send it to you—it relates to what we are talking about. Are you interested in sci-fi? What gets you off when you think of your dream project?

HS Oh, yay! I haven’t heard of her, but I love sci-fi. I really want to do something sci-fi-related

A Yas…Go off!

HS That’s what I grew up on—comic books and Teen Titans. All of that was so important to me, so I feel like I owe it to my younger self. And the aesthetics would be sickening…Who’s serving better than a superhero with armor? That’s what I wish I could look like all the time.

A Let’s see if we [can] link up for a sci-fi collab. Actually, your last post is pretty superhero.

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HS Thank you! That would be so sick. It’s always lowkey what I am trying to channel, in some way or another.

A To be real, transness is pretty sci-fi…

HS Yas. Period! I think that’s why a lot of trans people can tap into a certain aesthetic that has sci-fi elements [so well].

A And commit to it, too—it’s not something you [necessarily] take on or off. I support body-mod of all kinds. The vessel that you inhabit, your body, is the only thing that’s [truly yours]: It’s not property or money. Why not share your values and your beliefs through it?

HS Yeah, true…When I hear “body-mod,” I think of people putting, like, studs under their skin. But I guess it can extend to any alteration you put your body through, huh?

A Yeah, love it! I mean, the studs, the splitting tongues…I [support] all of it! …You passed through New York, too, right? I had a pretty formative part of my life there, so I was wondering what your experience was like.

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HS I was in New York for a year and a half. I feel like I grew up there. Like, I don’t know how to quantify the amount of growth I did there, but I feel like I was such a baby [before]. I came straight from North Carolina, the summer after I graduated high school. I had utilized my modeling agency so that I was already employed when I got there. I just sort of figured it all out from there. I was in a place in Bushwick for a little bit. Like, a model apartment. So many “firsts” happened there. I am curious, when were you there?

A My story is pretty similar, in that I went straight from high school. So, I was 17 when I got there, and it was like the same kind of thing [where] your mind just gets opened, in such an abrupt way, that you definitely grow quickly. If you go straight there after high school, you are brave. It’s pretty crazy.

HS Yeah.

A I wanted to ask you about your visual art, too. I think it’s so sick.

HS Thank you, thank you! My original plan was to model in order to support my visual art. At that point, I thought, Damn, I wish I could be making money off of [my art] because it’s all I want to do. But then I got swept up in [acting], which is wild: I went to an arts high school, and was always focused on visual arts; [performing] was this exciting and tantalizing activity. Now it’s the opposite; I am monetizing performing. It’s wild!

A It’s beautiful to have that, no matter what medium you work in—anything that gives you oxygen, that [relieves] the pressure of monetizing your creative practice within a capitalistic system.

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HS Now I am trying to lock down my [visual] art practice again. But it is a blessing to [be able to] have both—[acting] and art.

A Variety is the spice of life, for everything. I wouldn’t even want to use the same moisturizer every day!…Watching Euphoria, I was totally transfixed with the character of Jules. It’s a really special performance.

HS Aw, thank you, thank you!

A Who’s been your closest artistic collaborator, would you say?

HS I don’t know if I’ve ever worked closer with anyone than Zendaya on Euphoria. It was such an extensive process, and a very intimate one. And also Sam Levinson, [the creator], who helped me get to those places I hadn’t been since I was a teenager…

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A Is there anything you imagine for the character of Jules, like in the long- term, hypothetically?

HS Ooh…I know she has dreams, [many of] which she stated in the first episode. Which is just what I did in a way: escaping to New York, and working or interning in fashion…And that was [part of the character] before I was even cast, so it was really freaky to see that written into the script. So, I feel like that’s definitely her path.

A I don’t have a vision for Jules—I’m just a bystander, finding out what happens with everyone else. But I love watching Jules, and will cheer her on in whatever she does. [She’s] just so fucking cool!

HS [Laughs] Aww, thank you. You are like her voyeur mother.

A I am so into that! That makes me so happy.

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