British actress Millie Bobby Brown rose to stardom at the age of 12, with her breakout role as Eleven in the hugely popular Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” which premiered in 2016, and for which she received critical acclaim for her performance. By 2018, she’d landed on the list of the American news magazine ‘Time 100 Most Influential People in the World’ and was appointed as a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador. In 2019, she made her movie debut in “Godzilla: King of Monsters”, and went on to produce, and play the title character in “Enola Holmes” in 2020. With all her success as an actress, many were surprised to learn that she had partial loss of hearing.

Early life and family

Millie Bobby Brown was born on 19 February 2004, in Marbella, Spain, to English parents, Robert and Kelly Brown. Her mother was said to be pregnant with Millie when they relocated to Spain, where the parents of Robert ran a restaurant. The family moved to Bournemouth, Dorset in England when she was four, and by the time she was eight, they were living in Orlando, Florida USA. She was close to her older siblings, Paige and Charlie as well as to her younger sister, Ava.

Her journey as an actress

One time, she along with older students performed the holiday song, “Grown-Up Christmas List” onstage, and the thrill that it gave her made her realize that this was what she wanted to do. Not surprising considering that, unlike her siblings, she preferred watching musicals such as “Moulin Rouge,” “Annie” and “Chicago”, instead of cartoons.

As she told her parents that she wanted to pursue acting, they said, ‘Well, it’s a job, and if you commit to it, you have to commit to it. You can’t audition and then give up,’ to which she replied, ‘I don’t care. Whatever it takes, I want to act.’ They must have believed that she had potential in acting, that they heeded the advice of a top talent scout to move to Los Angeles, California, to further her chances of getting noticed and making it big in Hollywood. Her parents sold everything and took a gamble on her. Fortunately, they received offers from various children’s agencies to represent Millie.

Within a few months of being in Tinseltown, she landed the role of young Alice for a couple of episodes, so making her television debut in 2013 in “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” which aired on ABC, and was a spin-off series from the fantasy-adventure “Once Upon A Time.” By 2014, she was part of the main cast portraying the role of Madison O’Donnell, a nine-year-old girl possessed by a serial killer, in the eight-episode paranormal thriller series, “Intruders,” which aired on BBC America. Around that time, she also appeared in guest-starring roles, in hit TV series such as “Modern Family,” “NCIS,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Landing roles was not as easy as it seemed. With far too little work, her family struggled financially to the point that her older sister left, as she no longer wanted to stay in America. Millie said, ‘It was very hard. There were lots of tears along the way.’ Her manager even lent them money to tide them over, but the family went completely broke, packed up and moved back to the UK to live with a close relative. Millie continued to send taped auditions.

Her thoughts on acting

Millie struggled with self-identity, and acting allowed her to discover who she really was. She could feel lonely even in a crowded room, and often felt that she didn’t belong. Since she felt that no one could relate to her, she found enjoyment in portraying various characters that most people could understand. Later on, she had this realization about her craft – ‘There was something about acting that made me feel powerful, impactful, and like I could inspire people.’ It made her feel that she could empower viewers, and even change the world.

Her phenomenal success via “Stranger Things”

Millie was close to giving up on her dream, particularly when an influential casting director told her that she was too mature or grown up for her age to make it in the industry. She was aware of her maturity but there was nothing she could really do about it and even thought that it was a good thing, so it was a shock to her when she was told that it wasn’t. That same day, feeling quite emotional, she self-filmed a tape to audition for the Duffer Brothers, the creators of “Stranger Things.”

Casting a child actor for the role of Eleven was difficult, because of the myriad of emotions that she had to display while speaking only a few lines. However, after meeting Millie, the Duffer Brothers knew they had found their Eleven. They weren’t the only ones who saw something special in her, as Stephen King once tweeted, ‘Millie Brown, the girl in INTRUDERS, is terrific. Is it my imagination, or are child actors a lot better than they used to be?’ The showrunners described her as someone with a ‘downright spooky preternatural talent’, who inhabited each moment on the scene quite intensely.

For the role, Millie’s long brown hair had to be shaved off, and despite her mother’s protests, Millie was fine with it, saying it would all grow back.  The producers showed her a picture of how totally badass Charlize Theron looked sporting a buzz cut in her role as Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and Millie couldn’t agree more.

The science fiction horror series was set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s. There were mysterious events occurring in the area, that unbeknownst to the residents at that time, was caused by experiments involving human test subjects at the Hawkins National Laboratory. As they delved into the paranormal, they inadvertently opened a portal to the “Upside Down,” an alternate dimension. Eleven, a young girl who had psychokinetic powers, had escaped from the laboratory, and met Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson and Mike Wheeler, the friends of Will Byers, who was abducted by a powerful creature from Upside Down. She later became the adoptive daughter of Jim Hopper (David Harbour), the chief of the Hawkins Police Department who investigated the case of the missing boy. Also, a prominent character in the series was Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), the mother of Will.

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“Stranger Things” was released on 15 July 2016 on Netflix, and became an instant hit and much talked about on social media, earning nominations for several categories from prestigious award-giving bodies. Millie’s performance was recognized as well, and in 2017, she received nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series from the Primetime Emmy Awards, and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Millie’s life changed significantly with the success of the TV series.

She became a producer in “Enola Holmes”

Millie next ventured into producing films, starting with “Enola Holmes” in which she played the title character. The movie was based on the young adult mystery series by Nancy Springer, and revolved around the teen sister of Sherlock Holmes, who went in search of her missing mother. It was Paige Brown who introduced the novel to Millie, thinking that it would be great to see onscreen. Millie fell in love with the story and the Enola character – her bravery and vulnerability. Before long it turned into a movie project, and the sisters were excited to do this as they worked well together and didn’t have creative differences. Although being a producer was a huge responsibility, Millie felt empowered in having a say on what went on behind the scenes.

To make the film, PCMA Productions, her family’s own production company, partnered with Legendary Pictures, the company that Millie worked with when she starred in the 2020 monster film, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” It was set to be released in theaters, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Netflix acquired the distribution rights, and it was aired on 23 September 2020. Within five days of its release it had become the most watched film on the streaming service giant. According to Business Insider, 77 million households watched, and it became the 7th Biggest Original Movie on Netflix of All Time. “Enola Holmes 2” is scheduled to air in November 2022.

Her directorial debut

She collaborated with Samsung to star and direct her first short film, and this time she worked with her brother Charlie, who was the director of photography. It was shot using the Nightography features of Galaxy S22 Ultra, with the poem written and delivered by Millie. She trained in performing aerial silk, saying that it was symbolic of her growth. The message of the film was about empowering young women to be their authentic selves. For her, ‘Blocking out the noise and understanding that your own voice is the only thing that matters because that [is what] guides you into your destiny, your future.’

Interesting things about Millie

Her father asked for $100,000 from talent agencies

After Millie left Paradigm Talent Agency in 2016, many top agencies were interested in signing her up. Robert Brown was highly criticized when it was revealed that he demanded that they be paid $100,000 as a signing fee to represent his daughter. This might not have been illegal, but it was certainly not the usual way of doing things in Hollywood. Apparently, someone advised Robert of this, but it was reportedly only said in jest. He was friends with many sporting agents in the UK, and it was said to be customary to receive payments upfront in exchange for representation.

Melanie Greene, Millie’s British-born talent manager, wasn’t aware of these payment requests. Perhaps in damage control, the Browns hired the publicity firm Shelter PR, and the veteran lawyer Steve Warren, to be part of Millie’s team. In February 2017, it was announced that she signed with IMG Models, an international modeling agency that boasted of having Milla Jovovich, Karlie Kloss, and Bella Hadid in their roster of talents. It was said that no demand for payment was made to sign her up.

She has no social media app on her phone

Unlike any other teenagers whose lives revolved around their ‘phones, and engaging in social media, Millie had refrained from such activity. In fact, her ‘phone had no social media app installed – her Twitter and TikTok accounts were deleted, and although she still had Facebook and Instagram accounts, but someone else handled them.

As Millie became famous, she attracted the attention of many people, including trolls and haters who constantly bullied her online. She had a hard time dealing with so much anger and negativity directed at her, as it seemed that there was always something wrong with how she looked and what she said or did; she couldn’t understand why these people hated her. For years, she was also sexualized by adult men sending her threats and Not Safe/Suitable For Work (NSFW) messages. She had to undergo therapy to deal with all this, and it took her a while to realize that she couldn’t please everybody, and that she didn’t have to do anything to conform to other people’s standards.

With her blog posts on her Florence by Mills website, she was able to communicate with her fans, and the best thing about it, she said, was that nobody could leave a comment.

She launched her own beauty brand in 2019

In an interview, Millie revealed that she started Florence by Mills, named after her grandmother, because she didn’t know anything about beauty or skincare, and she wanted to take this journey with young people like her to learn about these things. Her beauty products boasted of being dermatology-tested, vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free.

She received a backlash over a video of her demonstrating the use of her products without actually using them. She apologized for that and explained, ‘I’m still learning the best way to share my routines as I get to know this space better – I’m not an expert,’ and added, ‘I thought doing a quick video replicating my personal process for that night was okay, but that’s not what was conveyed.’

Controversial relationship with a TikTok star

Many speculated that Millie was dating TikTok star Hunter Ecimovic, also known as Hunter Echo, when photos of them kissing circulated online. In July 2021, Hunter made disturbing claims about Millie as he went live on social media. He said that he was in a sexual relationship with Millie when she was still a minor; he was 20 while she was 16 at that time. He admitted to ‘grooming’ her, and shared explicit details of their sexual encounters. Hunter wanted to make it clear that he had nothing to apologize for, and that he lived in her house for eight months, so her parents knew about them.

Millie’s representatives released a statement pertaining to his remarks as dishonest and offensive; they also planned to take action against him. He later apologized for doing the live stream and said, ‘I’m not proud of at all how I spoke, it sounded very immature, looked horrible on my family, it looked horrible on me, it looked horrible on my friends.’ He also said that he never groomed or put pressure on her.

The relationship had ended six months prior to Hunter’s revelations. Millie described him as a ‘blip’ in her life, and dealing with what she went through was easier when no one else knew about it. She felt powerless and humiliated when the ‘unhealthy situation’ she was in was made public. She revealed, ‘Walking away and knowing that I’m worth everything and this person didn’t take anything from me, it felt very empowering,’ and continued, ‘It felt like my life had finally turned a page, and that I had actually ended a chapter that felt so fucking long.’ Her reason for sharing all this was to let young people know that she was not this perfect person who had everything going for her, as she also made wrong decisions in life.

Millie is partially deaf

One of the things that surprised a lot of people, was to learn about her being deaf in one ear. At first, it was only a partial loss of hearing, and then it completely faded away over time. She couldn’t fully hear herself, so it was also a remarkable feat that she could sing, and cover songs of various artists on her YouTube channel and even during interviews. Millie said, ‘I just started to sing, and if I sound bad I don’t care, because I’m just doing what I love.’ She further said that one need not be good at singing, dancing, or acting. ‘If you like to do it, if you genuinely enjoy doing it, then do it. No one should stop you.’

Since appearing in the iconic role of Eleven in “Stranger Things,” she’s amassed over 58 million followers on Instagram, launched a beauty product, produced movies, and directed a short film. As she expressed herself through a variety of mediums, she said that she did all this simply because it made her happy. She is currently enrolled at Purdue University and taking online classes toward earning a bachelor’s degree in human services.

In her personal life, she’s currently dating Jake Bongiovi, Jon Bon Jovi’s son. In August 2022, she posted a photo with him on Instagram with the caption, ‘Always b my baby.’

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