Hari Nef says Barbie will empower trans women to ‘let go of the checklist’

Author: Charlie Duncan

Hari Nef

Trans film star Hari Nef, who plays a doctor in Barbie, has spoken about the film’s supportive message for the trans community.

If there’s one thing that’s likely to herald a box-office smash – aside from a preacher denouncing a film as being “full of transgender and homosexuality” before its release – it’s an inspiring message, first-class comedy, and lots (and we mean lots) of pink.

Greta Gerwig’s upcoming live-action film adaptation of Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has been blazing a plastic fantastic publicity trail in the weeks leading up to its official premiere.

That trail has included a star-studded, Dua-Lipa-led album, featuring artists such as Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, tantalising teasers, hints at Barbie‘s fish-out-of-fake-water storyline and, of course, the most diverse cast for a blockbuster in recent years.

Front and centre of Barbie‘s efforts to bring an inspiring message to trans women everywhere through the power of pink is Nef.

Speaking to Out Magazine alongside two of Barbie‘s other queer stars (Scott Evans and Alexandra Shipp), the trans trailblazer explained that despite the Mattel toy’s perceived history of enforcing “blonde, white” beauty standards, she believes that her role will have the opposite effect.

“As a trans girl, it’s easy to get caught up in big dreams of what you’ll become. And it’s inevitable that you’ll get struck down by external messages and obstacles of what you’ll never be and what you won’t be able to do,” she said.

“You’re caught constantly between striving for perfection and recoiling from rejection. It’s hard.”

Nef, who has stolen the spotlight in the first official clip from the film, went on to reaffirm how Barbie will prove to be a source of inspiration for trans viewers of all ages.

“As much as there’s a celebration of femininity and being a girl in this [movie], there’s also an encouragement of letting go of the checklist we ascribe to living and living your life, and being in your body, your way, on your own terms,” she continued.

“The best that we can do as women, as trans women, is be there for [one another] and take ourselves at face value, without relying on the green light from anyone else.”

The Mapplethorpe star reflected on the way drag has inspired her Barbie character, echoing thoughts previously voiced in a wild back story she created for her doll.

“I’m a lover of drag. I’m a lover and admirer from afar of ballroom culture,” she revealed. “It felt kind of like a legacy that I could honour on-screen dolls dolling, dolls dressing up. The category was something different every day.”

“Dolls” here has a double meaning – aside from referring to Mattel’s most iconic creation, the term is also used to describe trans women.

“I’ve joked before, it really did feel like Greta Gerwig’s Drag Race,” she joked in a nod to RuPaul’s reality TV empire based on pitting drag queens against one another until either their heels or psyches snap.

“Because I was doing acting, dancing, comedy, and the whole time I was cinched, wigged, painted from head to toe, padded, heels, it’s a very specific kind of femininity.

“It’s not a kind of femininity that I live every single day of my life in, but it’s one that I come back to time and time again. It’s also one I feel very comfortable wearing in public, when the cameras are on and when people are watching.”

Beyond the juggernaut of Barbie, Nef also shared her desire to see more stories focusing on trans people “that aren’t merely redemptive, that aren’t rooted in transition or discovery.”

She explained: “I’m excited for trans a*sholes on screen. I’m excited for trans anti-heroes on screen. I’m excited for trans scammers on screen. I’m excited for trans sex on screen. I’m excited for trans nudity on screen.

“There are a lot of things that we haven’t actually seen yet,” she concluded.

While the plot of Barbie is still relatively unknown, more and more hints about the adventure have pointed to Robbie’s Barbie “suffer[ing] a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence,” according to the film’s official synopsis.

Gerwig, who wrote the film with partner Noah Baumbach, has previously hinted that the plot is inspired by “technicolour musicals like The Wizard of Oz.” The film’s most recent trailer show Barbie’s arched feet dropping to the ground, prompting an existential crisis of epic proportions.

The film also boasts an extensive cast of other queer fan-favourites, including Issa Rae and Ncuti Gatwa.

Barbie is due to open in cinemas on 21 July.

Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Charlie Duncan


My name is David but my online nick almost everywhere is Altabear. I'm a web developer, graphic artist and outspoken human rights (and by extension, mens rights) advocate. Married to my gorgeous husband for 12 years, together for 25 and living with our partner of 4 years, in beautiful Edmonton, Canada.

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