Hari Nef: A Rising Transgender Model Superstar From Newton South

By Maddy Epstein

Arts Reporter

Former Newton South student from the class of 2011 Hari Nef is blowing up in the modeling and acting business.

With a massive following of more than 140,000 followers on Instagram and 30,000 on Twitter, Nef is unarguably one of the most noteable transgender models/actresses/trans advocates to date.

To add to her immense success, Nef is catching the eyes of major fashion labels such as Elle Magazine, and has walked the runway in several New York and Paris Fashion Week shows.  In addition, Nef is currently signed as the first openly transgender model with the agency “IMG Models”, as of 2015.  

Just recently, Nef also appeared in H&M’s fall collection advertisement, alongside other women of different races, ages, and backgrounds to promote equality for all.

Along with modeling, Nef has also had some experience with acting.  She was cast as Tante Gittel in season 2 of Amazon Studio’s hit series Transparent, a show about a family dealing with their 70-year-old father coming out as a women.  The show has received various Emmy’s, Golden Globes, and even this year’s Peabody Award, and it is a great way to educate people on our society’s transgender issues, which is a cause for which Nef is a strong advocate.

Sabrina Clebnik, Nef’s sister who is currently a sophomore at South, describes her as having “a mind of her own that she is not afraid to speak”, which she uses to fight for trans rights and awareness.

Nef became close with celebrities who also support the trans and LGBTQ communities like Troye Sivan and Miley Cyrus, who started even her own foundation called “The Happy Hippie Foundation” to help those communities.

Four or five years ago, someone like Nef would not be accepted in the modeling or acting industry at all, as is usually the case when anyone who is slightly different. Luckily, society has become more inviting and accepting of people with differences. As Clebnik puts it, “There are people who don’t respect the transgender community, but there is an overwhelming amount of support [from the] people that she is inspiring, and that definitely outweighs anyone discriminating her.”