The Teacher

Hari Nef

Small-screen heroine. Style pioneer. The best kind of teacher

Hari Nef doesn’t underestimate the importance of high school. “It’s where you really start to develop a sense of identity,” says the 23-year-old actress, model and activist. “But I do think that when you’re in high school nobody tells you that when it ends, it ends!” Burning up the industry as the first transgender model to sign to IMG, Nef has been schooling young fans and adults alike in how to live your life authentically ever since she first took to the Tumblr-sphere and began penning candid and incisive chronicles for a youth-culture community looking for its first heroine. But besides modelling at fashion weeks and gracing countless fashion covers, Nef is focused on her acting: her role in season two of Transparent shot her into the small-screen major league, and she has plenty of (for-now secret) projects lined up. That said, she still has some important lessons for the school year – ultimately, Nef’s is a life syllabus we should all be switched on to…

Hari wears the following optical styles: Prada PR03TV, Miu Miu MU53OV and Miu Miu MU51PV

If you care, look it up – if you don’t, stop asking about it

Hari, The Teacher

On what’s on her compulsory reading list…
Mrs Dalloway is my favourite book. I like the way Virginia Woolf captures everyday life. I feel like my most intense moments are often when I’m crossing the street on my way to get cigarettes, versus when I achieve something major, or somebody dies. If I think about the climactic moments of my life, they happen in-between those big moments. Mrs Dalloway is the first text I read that resonated with me on that level because I never really related to epic literature, or literature in the ‘grand’ tradition. It’s not realistic. The way Woolf captures the drama of everyday life and splits every second open and explores it and zooms in and zooms out… That’s the way that I go through life.”

On who gets a gold star this year…
“The gold star goes to my friend (and designer) Vejas Kruszewski.  I’ve known Vejas since he was, like, 16 or 17. We met on the internet, on Tumblr, (where) we were just helping each other, and later on trips to New York. I would help him cast lookbooks with contacts I had stolen from people I was interning for! His business partner and CEO, Saam Emme, who I believe is the first trans CEO of a major fashion label that I know of, should also get a gold star. She’s amazing!”

On her advice for students…
“For kids today, myself included, it’s always, ‘What do you want? What do you want to achieve, what do you want to get, what do you what to do?’ That language, subconsciously, over time, leads you to believe that you don’t have everything you need to get what you what. You will feel like you have to work so hard to even be a candidate. And I think that’s not true. You have everything you need. It’s just a matter of time and patience and focus. The second you graduate and you walk out of the auditorium, you are done. You don’t have to speak to these people ever again! I just didn’t have any patience in high school and I sawed myself in half: trying to do as much as I could, be as much as I could, be as well liked as I could. I just twisted myself in a knot and didn’t sleep for four years, and then it ended and I thought, ‘What did I do all that for?’ It’s good to work hard, it’s good to invest in your social life, it’s good to be present and tune in, but don’t hurt yourself.”