LOS ANGELES -- Barbie Ferreira has been hearing countless variations on the word “breakthrough” applied to her role in HBO’s groundbreaking teen drama “Euphoria” ever since the series debuted over the summer. But the actress clearly isn’t tired of them.
When Ferreira was asked when it meant to be named one of The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of 2019, she explained that it, and all of the praise she’s received since “Euphoria,” has validated a dream she’s had since age 10: To be a professional actor.
“It's been a lot of ‘No's, a lot of rejection,” Ferreira said. “But somehow, some way, it has happened. And I have a role on a TV show, and I have this opportunity and it just feels really surreal.”
Though “Euphoria's" star id Zendaya, Ferreira has stood out of the daringly dark and often sexually graphic series by portraying Kat Hernandez, a teen working her ways through sexuality and finding her place as a plus-size woman in a size-zero world.
While this is Ferreira’s star-making acting role, she is no stranger to success: She was a fashion model in New York who received attention for embracing her fuller size. At 19, Time featured her in a profile and noted “her image inspires girls around the world.”
But she gave it all up and moved to Los Angeles to make her Hollywood dream come true.
Ferreira noted that she lucked out in two ways. It’s rare that a relative novice lands a plum role on a major TV series. And it’s an even longer shot that the series ends up an out-of-the-gate critical and audience hit.
“You know, I saw how great it was and I had my inclinations to be like, ‘I think the world's ready to see it,’” Ferreira replied. “By the same time, I remember all of us just so scared for weeks -- and not scared, but more just nervous. And we know that we were putting something out there that maybe was shocking and maybe did things that other people didn't do. And that comes with a lot of anxiety. And, for me, I think the takeaway that I've had is that anything is possible within this career.”
Ferreira next appears opposite Haley Lu Richardson in the feature adaptation of the novel “Unpregnant,” and HBO renewed “Euphoria” for a second season.
Down the road, Ferreira would like to tell her own stories.
“I used to think that I would have to wait, like, 10 years...or have to go through all this stuff to be able to have a voice or a story to tell,"she said. “And it's just not true. So, I just want to explore all aspects of it.”
However, for now, she’s savoring every moment, and every sweet word.
Today, “breakthrough” suits her just fine.
“Ït has been such a blessing and a privilege to do it that now, I'm like, ‘The world is my oyster.’ And this was my goal for so long that I've achieved it.
“Now I'm like, ‘What else?’”