Who is Hari Nef from 'The Idol'? Meet the trailblazing actress on all of your favorite shows

From 'The Idol' to 'And Just Like That,' Hari Nef is proving to be a TV stand out

Hari Nef HBO The Idol Season 1 - Episode 2
(Image credit: Eddy Chen/HBO)

From hotly anticipated HBO shows to Prime Video originals, Hari Nef has been seemingly everywhere this past year. 

But who is this fashionable gal that keeps popping up on all of our favorite TV shows,  from The Idolthe buzzy HBO title starring Lily-Rose Depp and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye—to the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That and the recently departed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Let's get to know her!

Who is Hari Nef from 'The Idol'?

Hari Nef is a 30-year-old American actress, model and writer. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Newton, Massachusetts before making her way to New York City. 

She first came on the scene as a runway model, having her New York Fashion Week debut in spring 2015, walking for the likes of Eckhaus Latta, Adam Selman and Hood By Air. Most recently, Nef can be seen as the face of JW Anderson's Fall/Winter 2022 collection. 

Acting was soon to follow—Nef graduated with a degree in theater from New York's illustrious Columbia University in 2015. That same year, she had her breakthrough TV role as Tante Gittel on the Emmy-winning Amazon series Transparent, for which she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. The part of Gittel was reportedly written specifically for Nef by show creator Joey Soloway. 

Numerous TV roles followed, including in the Netflix thriller You, the Amazon period-piece comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and, most recently, The Idol, the six-part miniseries that premiered on HBO on Sunday, June 4. In The Idol cast, Hari Nef plays Talia, a Vanity Fair reporter who is writing a profile on Jocelyn, the troubled pop star portrayed by French-American actress Lily-Rose Depp.

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Is Hari Nef trans?

Yes, Hari Nef is a transgender woman. She is the first openly transgender woman to receive a worldwide modeling contract, with IMG Models. She is also the first openly transgender woman to land the cover of a major British magazine, Elle UK.

“I’d seen Hari walk the catwalk for Gucci and she seemed to highlight everything that is changing about the world right now,” said Lorraine Candy, former editor-in-chief of Elle UK, to The Guardian.

According to an interview with The New York Times, Nef began transitioning while a drama student at Columbia. “That was one of the most powerful experiences. Finding my new voice and my new body and a new set of roles to play, which felt so much more authentic. I always joke that I’m a better actress than I am a male actor,” she told the outlet. 

“I could have hid in Boston and lived at home for three years, gone through my transition, taken voice lessons to make my voice more feminine, gotten gender reassignment surgery, and spent time to complete my transition before I made my debut in fashion or film, but I didn’t want to wait!” Nef said in a Vogue profile. “I’m not trying to self-aggrandize, but it’s more than a job to me. It is political.”

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Hari Nef 'You': who did she play?

Fans of the Netflix thriller You will remember Nef as the recurring character Blythe, a graduate student studying alongside Beck (Elizabeth Lail) in season one. 

Hari Nef 'And Just Like That' role

On the season finale of the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That, Nef stole the show as the hilarious Rabbi Jen, the transgender rabbi that Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) tracks down to lead her nonbinary child Rock's “they-mitzvah.” 

It ends up that Rock doesn't get they-mitzvahed that day ("I don't want to be labeled as anything. Not as a girl, or boy, nonbinary, a Jew, Christian, Muslim, not even as a New Yorker," they tell their parents) and instead, Rabbi Jen officiates Charlotte herself as an adult into the Jewish faith. 

Nef, a longtime Sex and the City fan, wrote of her excitement about the appearance, which was written for her by Michael Patrick King: “With each passing year I measured my life and my body and my bedpost against Carrie in season 1: 32 years old, lithe and wry in a little black dress, unwavering in her resolve to bridge fantasy and reality. her trials and truisms, her affect, her haunts–they grew ambient to me. 'what would Carrie do?'” she posted on Instagram. 

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L. Roy Dunham on 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

On episode six of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season four, Hari Nef can be seen playing L. Roy Dunham, a culture reporter for The Daily News who is not the biggest fan of Midge Maisel or her stand-up act. 

Dunham's name first pops up at the beginning of season four, after Midge and her manager Susie catch wind of a scathing article detailing Mrs. Maisel's firing from the Shy Baldwin tour. Midge and Susie initially mistake the gender-neutral pen name for a man, but they're plenty surprised when Nef's Dunham shows up in person. 

Catch Hari Nef in The Idol, airing Sundays at 9pm on HBO and Max.

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.