Hari Nef is an American supermodel, actress and writer who has become a transgender fashion icon of modern times. She was described as the “trans fashion muse of our generation” by the lifestyle magazine ‘Dazed’. However, being a transgender fashion icon is not her most impressive achievement, as she is also an outspoken activist for LGBT rights. After becoming the first ever transgender woman to be signed by ‘IMG Models’, she walked the runway for ‘Hood By Air’, ‘Eckhaus Latta’, and Adam Selman. Apart from modelling, the millennial fashion icon has also delivered critically acclaimed performances as an actress on television series like ‘Transparent’ (as Gittel) and ‘You’ (as Blythe). Additionally, she was lauded for her acting skills in the movies ‘Mapplethorpe’ and ‘Assassination Nation’. Nef is quite active on ‘Tumblr’ and ‘Instagram’, and her ever-growing popularity has made her one of the most followed LGBT social media influencers. She has also written for magazines like ‘Vice’, ‘Dazed’, and ‘Blackbook’.
Childhood & Early Life
Hari Nef was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, on October 21, 1992 into a Jewish family. Her father’s name is David Nef, while her mother is called Robin Clebnik. Her parents got divorced when she was two years old. After that, she moved to Newton, Massachusetts with her mother.
She describes herself as an over-achieving, popular, chubby, and artsy public-school kid. But at the same time, she was also a typical youngster, rebelling against norms. Perhaps this was just an expression of her internal conflict that arose from having been born a biological male.
Nef started going to the ‘Columbia University’ in 2011 to major in ‘Drama and Theatre Arts’. She accomplished that in 2015. It was also during her university years that she started transitioning into a woman.
She received unconditional support from both her parents during her gender transition. After feeling dysphoric about her identity for so many years, she finally started opening up about her transformation to her acting peers.
Nef, who was emotionally and physically vulnerable during her years of confusion, finally started accepting her identity. The realization also gave her strength. She found more confidence and success in portraying female characters on screen.
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Hari Nef’s first foray into the world of entertainment started during her university days when she did an internship with casting director Jennifer Venditti. She also interned at the fashion label ‘VFILES’ in Soho and was involved in hosting parties at ‘Diamond Horseshoe’ and ‘Up & Down’.
In 2013, she appeared in a movie called ‘Hellaware’. At the same time, she also started gaining quite a following on Instagram as people were mesmerized by her gender fluidity and the ability to capture any frame she was in.
Her modeling career started when she was discovered by a photographer in March 2014. Hari featured on the cover of ‘FRISCHE Magazine’ and soon after that, she ranked at number 68 in the ‘Dazed 100’ list. In the same year, she topped the list of ‘Dazed Readers’ 100’. Additionally, she also worked in the short film ‘She Told Me She Was Dead’ in 2014.
The year 2015 turned out to be a breakthrough one for her. Days before graduating from the ‘Columbia University’, she met Ivan Bart, president of the model management firm ‘IMG’. Having been rejected numerous times by other agencies, she didn’t have high hopes from the meeting. Bart however was secretly impressed by her.
Hari Nef was offered the recurring role of Gittel in the gender-bending TV series ‘Transparent’ in 2015. When she informed Bart about it, he responded by signing her to ‘IMG Models’. She later earned a ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards’ nomination for her portrayal of Gittel. In the same year, she was seen in ‘The Black Soft’s’ new music video “Stay Away” and two short films entitled ‘Self Aware’ and ‘Family Tree’.
At ‘New York Fashion Week’ in February 2015, Hari Nef was a formidable presence on the runway. She walked for ‘Hood By Air’, ‘Eckhaus Latta’, and Adam Selman. She was also the star of Selfridges’ ‘Agender’ campaign film. In the same year, she featured in the summer issue of ‘Dazed’ magazine.
By 2016, Nef had not only established herself as a fashion icon, but she also became a vocal proponent of LGBT rights. She went on to shoot a video for ‘Teen Vogue’ in February with the title “7 Things You Should Never Ask a Trans (or Gender Non-Conforming) Person”. In September, she featured on one of the collectors’ covers of ‘Elle’ magazine, which was another historic first for a transgender woman.
Between 2014 and 2018, Nef featured in ‘i-D’ magazine multiple times while also continuing to walk the runway. In 2017, she was seen in the short movie ‘A-Z of Hair’ and an episode of ‘Love Advent’.
Hari Nef’s biggest acting achievements came in 2018. She was praised for her recurring role of Blythe in the series ‘You’ and her guest performance as Nia on the show ‘Camping’. She also played Tinkerbelle in the movie ‘Mapplethorpe’ (April 2018) and was one of the stars of the black comedy thriller film ‘Assassination Nation’ (September 2018).
Family & Personal Life
Hari Nef, who doesn’t want to conform to conventional definitions of gender, has had relationships with gay, bisexual and straight men. The gender-fluid fashion icon has not revealed if she is dating anyone in particular.