When Kat enters a room in HBO's Euphoria, her confident attitude is like a tangible wave that washes over everyone present. The same certainly goes for the character's real-life counterpart, Barbie Ferreira. The 23-year-old gets visibly excited when I ask about her and Kat's respective personalities while we sit backstage during a promotional event for plus-size clothing brand Torrid. Above her colorful and graphic cat-eye makeup, her dark eyebrows bounce up and down in time with her animated hand gestures; she tucks her kitten-heeled feet underneath her butt, lounging like we're just two friends at a sleepover. She openly chuckles at her own responses. Her self-assuredness is a comfort that easily rubs off.
As Ferreira puts it, she and Kat share far more than physicality. In the show, Kat embarks on an abrupt sexual escapade involving dark makeup and tight latex outfits, a knee-jerk retaliation to having her first sexual experience recorded and posted online without her consent. As a model who's been working since she was a teenager, Ferreira surely understands Kat's frustration with herself and the world she feels she must adhere to with sex appeal. "I did that, in a way, with modeling and being like, 'I hate myself, but I'm just going to put my body in a string bikini, and this is torture, but I'm going to learn to deal with it,'" Ferreira explains.
Though she "has no clue" what's in store for her character in the show's second season, she has a hunch that a greater evolution is on the horizon. Hopefully, for both Ferreira's and viewers' sakes, that won't affect Kat's technicolor, pseudo-goth beauty sensibilities. That's another critical factor shared between the character and the actress: their unwavering desire to dive headfirst into makeup experiments.
In fact, some of Kat's most notable looks were a collaborative effort among her and key Euphoria makeup artists Doniella Davy and Kirsten Sage Coleman. "I love the eyeliner shape from the last episode," Ferreira says of the cat-eye look pictured above. "I love makeup, so me and Donnie and Kirsten just talked about it all day and then kind of brainstormed ideas. And I love to use tape to make a really sharp line, and we used tape for [the eyeliner]." She also made the suggestion of adding eyeliner to the inner corners of that look, resulting in an edgy prom look that was equal parts Ferreira and Kat.
The #EuphoriaMakeup phenomenon, by the way, does not in any way mark the beginning of Ferreira's love for makeup. "I've been on makeup YouTube since I was, like, 10 years old, so I've seen it all," she says. If anything, the show's beauty virality merely reignited the flame she lost when booking frequent modeling jobs. "When you're wearing makeup every day for work you don't really want to be putting it on. But [being Kat] kind of re-inspired experimenting with my looks again and going back to myself at 12, putting on a purple eye shadow and walking downstairs to my mom and scaring her."
Despite having "seen it all," in the makeup realm, Ferreira still credits the show with showcasing plenty of revolutionary beauty looks. However, the makeup itself isn't what she finds groundbreaking. "While I was shooting [Euphoria], I kept thinking that I've never seen in mainstream media — in TV or in movies — makeup like this that is just normalized... Throughout the whole process, we really wanted to reflect how society and kids treat makeup," she says. "It's not to make themselves look hot anymore." It's rather, she clarifies, to make an artistic statement. "In the beauty community, I feel like it's been happening for a bit. I think Euphoria has just brought it to the mainstream in a way like, 'Oh, this is what the teens are doing.' Some people just need that."
The one thing Ferreira and Kat don't seem to share is their stance on hair. Whereas Kat has consistently worn her chin-length bob in a sleek, deep side part, Ferreira recently chopped hers into a mullet-like shag before dyeing it a muted green hue. Though she tells me that look was part of an upcoming movie role, it's not nearly the end of her experimental phase: "It's blue now. You can't even tell in this light," she exclaims, picking at a few gelled strands and referring to the look as "denim hair."
Having the freedom to look wildly different from her small-screen counterpart, ironically, has connected them more. "I felt really restricted for a bit when I was modeling, just because the nature of the job is you can't really change the way you look. [Now] I'm just like, 'I want to get a tattoo. I want to dye my hair.'" she says. "I feel like I'm going through my rebellious teens once more." Perhaps that means Kat's season two rebellion will include a shaggy new haircut in a brand-new color.
More on Euphoria:
- Euphoria's Head Makeup Artist Shares Why You've Never Seen Makeup on Television Like This Before
- Watch Zendaya Give a Fan Her Signature Euphoria Glitter Tears
- Pat McGrath Invented Euphoria Makeup — Let's Not Forget That
Now, watch Euphoria star Zendaya try nine things she's never done before:
Originally Appeared on Allure