Barbie Ferreira isn’t just one of the stars of HBO’s buzzy, new sexy teen series Euphoria, she’s a fan of it, too. “As a cast, we just adore it,” she tells Out, dressed in a diaphanous pink taffeta dress as she bops from interview to interview during a busy trip to New York. “We go in [to set] days when we aren't even working. We want to see everything we can because the show is this precious baby that we poured everything into.” While releasing the show has been exciting, it’s also been “terrifying.” After all, once it’s in the hands of an audience, they choose how to engage with it — Ferreira brings up the viral tweet about a scene featuring 30+ penises, which she thinks misses the point of the show. “This is an incredible story that we think everyone can pretty much relate to."
But penises aren’t the only reasons people are tuning in, and Ferreira’s character Kat has quickly become a fan favorite on a show full of #relatableteens who aren’t necessarily all that relatable — it’s much easier to identify with a fat girl learning to embrace her body than an opiate addict played by a movie star. In the six episodes HBO has aired, Kat has lost her virginity, had her nudes leaked, become a teen sex worker, and co-starred in an animated sex scene with Harry Styles in Louis Tomlinson — and the season’s not even over yet. Talk about a hot girl summer.
I’m not sure how you identify. Are you queer?
I'm queer. In my private life, it's been going on for a long time. I obviously don't really identify as a straight woman ever in my life, but I feel like now I'm really in my queerness. I'm in LA living my L Word life. Isn't it amazing?
We need to get you on the reboot.
I would literally love that.
Were you anything like Kat as a teenager?
Absolutely. I was a One Direction fan. That's on the nose, first of all.
Did you write fanfiction?
I didn't. I also wasn't into Larry Stylinson so much because I was deeply in love with Harry Styles. That's like, my husband. You know? But I was in the fandom. I started modeling at roughly the same age that Kat has her little transformation. It has so many parallels — you have a safe space on the internet where you don't really divulge any information about yourself. And then that keeps you ...You feel safer about it. And then once that trust was broken, when she lost her virginity and she had sex for the first time, and someone recorded it, and posted it on the internet where there’s a lack of control...
When I started modeling, I felt like I had to open up in a way that was different than before, because I wanted to. I wanted to start that journey now rather than later.
One of the best lines of the season was in episode five, when Kat says, "There's nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn't give a fuck." Do you agree?
I absolutely agree. I love the word fat. When I talk about myself or my friends, we are The Fat Agenda. We had a plus-size modeling group chat called The Fat Agenda for a long time. We'd be like “the fats.” It was very endearing because in a world where, obviously in our industry, they other us in so many ways. We're like, "Okay. Well, then we are the fats, and we are the fat agenda, and we're pushing it." So I agree wholeheartedly. The moment when I reframed what beauty is to me, and what I find attractive, and how I want to present myself to the world, and how that doesn't have to necessarily closely relate to what everyone else is doing — that was really powerful for me.
Not giving a fuck about your looks in that way, where you can express yourself and you have taken that time with yourself to explore and take up space that you probably couldn't before. Or, didn't feel like you could manage your insecurities. That always spoke to me. Because before I was a model, I was really self-hating. It was all-consuming. I just got so sick of it by 16. It was my whole life. So I was like, "I can't live my life like this. I’ve got to step it up."
Euphoria was picked up for a second season, which is very exciting. What do you want to see from Kat's journey?
I actually really enjoy that Kat is deeply flawed, and I think every character is. Because I feel like a lot of times, the stereotypical "fat best friend" is someone who's always there for someone else and doesn't really have their own viewpoint of that situation. And even when Kat is acting up or deep in these insecurities, like kind of unpacking her insecurities and how she's going through this period of time where it's like a lot — I think that just seeing her journey, I just want her to not necessarily continue the way she is, but find a balance in that.
We have to talk about her being a fanfic queen and that controversial, animated sex scene.
There's this thing on the internet where [fandom] is precious and this is private. This is our private little 10 million person thing. I completely understand wanting to protect these boys that you really connect with and that you spend a lot of time with, and you just want them to be happy. I completely understand that. I totally would feel the same way if I was really deeply connected with someone, and maybe didn’t really understand what [the show was] trying to do.
But the reality is that Larry Stylinson has a giant cultural impact. It was the first time that I saw this kind of level of fandom, and to get the insight into Kat's mind … we don't shy away from being so real that it's uncomfortable. [The fanfiction depicted on the show] is an actual fanfiction that was written, by the way, by someone I know.
Talking about shipping, who are you shipping on the show?
Rules, duh. I cry. I cry every time. They're the sweetest, cutest romance and also very dark. That essence of, "We just love each other and we're best friends." And, [they’re protective of] each other. I just love Rules.
You’re becoming quite the style icon, both on and off the show. Especially as a fat woman, what does that mean to you?
That's actually been my biggest anxiety through all of this. I have had such a hard time shopping for myself. I'm a size 14, 16 sometimes, especially in bottoms. A lot of people, especially the places I like to shop or my friends shop, there are no clothes. The things that are so cute, I want to wear so bad, and there's just no way, no matter how much money I throw. It doesn't exist. That was my whole problem with modeling. We'd go to editorials and a lot of the time people would just be lazy and not get me any bottoms. I was so scared because for so many years, I had put trust into people who may or may not have cared enough to even look for [clothes that would fit].
Of course, I'm also very protective with myself because I like to make a point that I'm not going to succumb to what other people think I should look like. I rediscovered my love for clothes. For a very long time, I was very jaded towards the fashion industry because of how I was being treated, and the difference in the racks of clothes. I'd get two things, everyone gets like the whole rack. But I met Chris Horan, my stylist. It's incredible because I was so nervous about getting styled. It was truly this very visceral feeling. I'm 12 years old again. This is such a big insecurity for me right now, because I have a very particular style and I want to play with it, and I want to have fun. I want to play with fashion.
It's a lot harder, but now that I have someone that actually cares about me — Me and Chris, we send each other pictures all day. I'm like, "I want these exact earrings." He'll be like, "What about this dress? They're going to make this for you," or, "They have this really cool brand that has your size." It's been really fun and interesting to find brands that are cool, that are up and coming who have things that fit your people. Yes, fat girls!
As a queer person, what do you hope that queer kids who are watching Euphoria are getting from it?
What's amazing about Euphoria, is that the sensual heart of the show is this beautiful lesbian romance. Falling in love with your straight best friend, which so many people can relate to. I’ve never seen such a tender depiction of it. Even [when it gets dark], they have this tenderness for each other that's so incredible, and people feel it. Hunter and Zendaya have this connection that is palpable.
What are your plans for the rest of hot girl summer?
Fit in a vacation, because let me tell you something. I haven't had a vacation in forever. I have work trips where I extend a day, but I haven't had a full vacation with my girls.
You need that. You need to get out in a bikini somewhere.
Exactly! It's so funny, because even at this point in my life, I never really wore bikinis. And now I'm just like, "It's hot girl summer, sis. Bikinis out!"