Metro Weekly

Hunter Schafer No Longer Wants to Play Trans Roles

Actress Hunter Schafer, who plays a trans teen in "Euphoria," plans not to take on any more trans roles to avoid being typecast.

Hunter Schafer – Photo: Harald Krichel, via Wikicommons

Following her critically acclaimed performance as trans teen Jules Vaughn in Euphoria, Hunter Schafer says she no longer wants to play transgender roles.

Speaking with GQ magazine, the 25-year-old actress, who is herself transgender, noted that she has turned down “tons of trans roles” because she doesn’t want to be typecast and prefers her gender identity not define the rest of her career.

“I don’t want to be [reduced to] that, and I find it ultimately demeaning to me and what I want to do,” Schafer said. “I worked so hard to get to where I am, past these really hard points in my transition, and now I just want to be a girl and finally move on.”

Schafer notes that she’s had to be strategic about separating herself from her gender identity. She has recently tried to avoid saying the word “trans” in interviews. She has been more circumspect in talking about transgender-related issues or her identity, realizing that when issues of identity are raised, that becomes the singular focus of media outlets.

“It has not just happened naturally by any means,” Schafer says of separating her gender identity from her public persona. “If I let it happen, it would still be giving ‘Transsexual Actress’ before every article ever.”

She has seemingly become jaded about positioning herself as an advocate for the community. “I’ve kind of lost interest in achieving some sort of utopia,” she told the magazine. “I am totally cool with people hating me for being trans or calling me a man. I am not interested in trying to convince them anymore. As long as you’re staying in your lane, work. Work! Do that. And I’m going to be over here with people I love.”

While acknowledging that she approaches this issue from a point of privilege — ironically, due in part to her portrayal of a transgender teenager on HBO’s Euphoria, which has grown her public profile — Schafer still believes de-centering her trans identity is perhaps better in the long term.

“I know for a fact that I’m one of the most famous trans people in media right now, and I do feel a sense of responsibility, and maybe a little bit of guilt, for not being more of a spokesperson,” she told GQ. “But ultimately, I really do believe that not making it the centerpiece to what I’m doing will allow me to get further. And I think getting further and doing awesome shit, in the interest of ‘the movement,’ will be way more helpful than talking about it all the time.”

Schafer recently portrayed Tigris in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. She called the role a “challenge” because it allowed her to expand her repertoire by portraying a character dissimilar to her real-life persona.

“Tigris kind of feels like the first character piece I’ve really done that’s not like a teenage girl who is kind of like one step away from who I am,” the actor told Entertainment Tonight at the movie’s premiere.

Schafer’s comments about not wishing to be typecast come at a time when studios and actors are under scrutiny for the roles they choose.

Some critics say that to achieve authenticity in casting, actors should only portray characters with a similar background, physical appearance, or identity as themselves. As noted by Deadline, Eddie Redmayne said it was a “mistake” for him to play a transgender woman in the 2015 film The Danish Girl, despite good intentions, as the role could have gone to a transgender actress.

Other actors who have portrayed LGBTQ characters have pushed back against the sort of typecasting for which the pushers of the “authenticity” argument seem to be arguing. Eric McCormack, who famously portrayed the titular character of Will in the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, defended his decision to take the role, saying casting should be determined on merit, rather than an actor’s personal identity.

“I didn’t become an actor so that I could play an actor,” he said during an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not. It’s part of the gig. And I’ve always said, if gay actors weren’t allowed to play straight actors, Broadway would be over.”

Similarly, actor Stanley Tucci, who played gay characters in The Devil Wears Prada and Supernova, told Out magazine he believes “an actor is an actor is an actor,” and that “you are supposed to play different people. You just are. That’s the whole point of it.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!