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‘Stranger Things’ Star Millie Bobby Brown Recounts Being Shamed as a Child Actor

Growing up is challenging for most folks, let alone for kids who come of age in the public eye. Child actors can face a host of issues, many of which stem from being treated as adults. Many people forget that, however mature or talented these kids can be, at the end of the day, they are still children. Celebrities, especially those who are exceptionally young, are real people with feelings that can be hurt by the words of others.

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That’s exactly what Millie Bobby Brown experienced when she first came to Hollywood as a child. Known for her breakout role as Eleven on Stranger Things, Brown became immensely famous when she was just 12 years old. The series, which is set to film its fifth and final season once the actors’ strike ends, has been a cultural phenomenon since it debuted on Netflix in 2016.

Stranger Things is a sci-fi teen drama series that follows a group of pre-teen Dungeons and Dragons players as they stumble across a government conspiracy in their small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Brown plays Eleven, a young girl and government experimental subject who has the power of telekinesis. Some could argue that Brown was the main character of Season 1 before the show shifted to be more of an ensemble.

While there were a ton of adult actors on the series like Winona Ryder and David Harbour, the majority of the cast was made of young talent like Brown, Noah Schapp, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and, Sadie Sink, who joined the series in its second season. Since the young cast was between the ages of 12 and 14 when the show began filming, there are a ton of adorable interviews of the young cast having a good time together.

While those moments looked so sweet, Brown recently revealed to Glamour that she had many bad experiences doing press interviews for Stranger Things. Many critics and YouTubers would pick apart her appearances and criticize her for talking too loud or interrupting her co-stars. 

“We’re kids—we talk over each other,” Brown said, “I was just penalized for over-talking and oversharing and being too loud. [I was accused of] trying to steal the thunder of [my] castmates.” Brown then revealed that grown adults called her “an idiot,” “stupid,” and “a brat.”

She continued, adding, “It’s hard to hear that at 13. You’re like, ‘I don’t want to ever talk again. I don’t want to be the loud person. In interviews, I couldn’t help but think of all the comments. So I just remembered to stay silent and speak when I was spoken to, even though I was dying to join in. I just felt it wasn’t my turn.”

Again, I understand that Brown was super famous at this time, and fame comes with certain expectations, but she was literally a child. Brown and her Stranger Things co-stars acted just like non-famous kids. But they were put under the brightest spotlight possible thanks to the show’s massive popularity. They didn’t, and still don’t, deserve to be scrutinized to an unrealistic degree.

It’s so sad that adults were trashing and insulting child actors. And that’s just one of the reasons why we need to better protect child actors, a cause Brown herself is very passionate about. 

“You cannot speak on children that are underage,” Brown explained, “I mean, our brains physically have not grown yet. To diminish and practically stunt someone’s growth mentally, strip them down, tell them, ‘Hey, listen, you don’t look that great. Why are you wearing that? How dare you think you can wear that? How dare you say that?’”

Let’s hope Brown and her peers can usher in a new era of Hollywood where child actors can have a safer and healthier experience.

(feature image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Turner)

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Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.