There’s something about Hunter Schafer. Even if you’ve never caught an episode of Euphoria—the HBO series in which Schafer made her acting debut and emerged as the show’s breakout star—she would have been on your radar eventually.
You might have stumbled upon her Instagram account, where she shares her art and life with her 3.6 million and counting followers. Maybe you first noticed her on the Met Gala 2021 red carpet, where she managed to steal the spotlight in a sea of actors, athletes, musicians, models and Kardashians, wearing a futuristic Prada leather crop top bustier and pencil skirt. Or perhaps she caught your eye as the face of the Prada Galleria campaign, where she looks out at you enigmatically from different settings and backdrops—a bedroom, an imaginary photoshoot—accompanied by the Galleria bag.
Here, the transgender actress talks about acting, the dream she thinks about every day, and what fashion means to her.
How would you describe your craft of acting?
I don’t know if I can call it “my craft” yet. Acting came into my life as a surprise. It’s drastically different from how I’ve expressed myself for most of my life, meaning I’m still adapting and learning what acting is. However, if I were to describe my process as it is now, I would say it’s an amplified form of reflection. Finding my personal experiences and tethering them to those of my character.
How do you create a character? How do you bring reality to your roles?
I look at creating a character kind of like a backwards dissection. I think it’s helpful to isolate or separate traits that are nature versus nurture and focus on the nurturing of this person. You can imagine happenings, influential moments, beliefs, etc., that mould the character’s personality, and make a map that gets as scientific as you want or need it to be. But the “nature” side of a character is the unpredictable factor. That’s where I use my personal experiences and vitality to activate the person I’m inhabiting.
What for you is a heroine? How would you define her?
A heroine is someone who has moved throughout the world with grace, and the clarity that’s required to authentically move those around them. Honestly, it could be anyone. Heroines are everywhere.
Who is your heroine?
How do you choose just one? I’m deeply influenced by my family—blood and chosen—all of whom act as heroines in my life.
How important are dreams—fantasies, imagination—to you as an actor?
Imagination is definitely the most vital tool, to me, as an actor! Your job is to fill up blank space, which I think warrants an active imagination that has a life of its own. Like most people, I often don’t feel in control of it. Our brains do that stuff for us; stick someone in front of a wall with nothing on it and their mind will begin to fill it up. I just try to channel that yearning to activate space into person instead of a space.
I’ve been dreaming a lot about a permanent or safe place to call home.
Do you have a dream you’d like to fulfil? A fantasy you’d like to realise?
I’ve been dreaming a lot about a permanent or safe place to call home. With my loved ones. I think about that every day.
What does fashion mean to you? What do you love about the fantasy of fashion?
Fashion has been a consistent place for me to align with myself. There’s nothing quite like feeling a harmony between your interior and exterior worlds. I love fashion for its impermanence, and constant invitations to evolve. Each time you put on a new outfit, is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. There’s something really comforting about that! You don’t have to stick to anything!
How would you define Prada—how do you see Prada?
I would define Prada as an intersection. I feel like Prada represents the collision of multiple avatars. Prada is simultaneously youthful, and classic. Loud and conservative. Femme and masc. Hard and soft, etc … all the best combos.
What is your own interpretation of the “Prada woman”?
I see the Prada woman as intelligent, observant, and independent. You can tell that her internal life is vivid and full.
What has your experience been in creating the characters for the Prada campaign and working with Xavier Dolan?
Xavier approached this campaign with a contagious excitement and vigour. I felt seen as an actor, particularly when he asked me to dance, or to immerse myself in a room, as if I’d lived there for years, or something like that. I could tell he wanted the campaign to feel alive, which is all you can really hope for when creating images.
Why do you like to wear the Galleria bag?
I like to wear the Galleria bag because it’s perfect in a multitude of ways. I can carry everything I need for the day in the bag, it’s versatile and can uplift just about any look I have on, and it’s beautiful.