CULTURE

Fearing Nepotism, Elizabeth Olsen Almost Changed Her Name

Elizabeth Olsen
Photo by Alex Hodor-Lee. Elizabeth Olsen is styled by Sarah Slutsky. Hair by Mark Townsend; Makeup by Gita Bass.

Elizabeth Olsen has long made a point not to talk about her ultra-famous older twin sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley. “If it only involves me, then I’ll share it, but if it involves another party ever, then I won’t,” she said in 2017. “I don’t want to tell anyone else’s story.” But the Wandavision and Avengers star made a rare exception for Glamour UK, marking her most candid interview of the topic yet. It turns out she’s been uncomfortable about acknowledging her family ties since she was 10—to the point that she considered changing her name.

Olsen got into acting back in 1994, with a cameo in the TV movie How the West Was Fun alongside her older sisters. She went on to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, but waited until 2011 to get back on-screen, with a critically acclaimed role as a cult member attempting to escape her past in Martha Marcy May Marlene. (She briefly considered pursuing a career on Wall Street.)

Olsen, now 32, was 10 when she realized going on auditions wasn’t for her. “I was missing my sports teams, my dance class and all the extracurricular activities at school,” she recalled. That wasn’t the only reason why she decided to switch gears. “During that time, I thought ‘I don’t want to be associated with [Mary-Kate and Ashley]’ for some reason,” Olsen said. “I guess I understood what nepotism was like inherently as a 10-year-old. I don’t know if I knew the word, but there is some sort of association of not earning something that I think bothered me at a very young age.”

It wasn’t about her sisters, Olsen clarified. “It had to do with my own insecurities, but I was 10. So I don’t know how much I processed, but I did think, ‘I’m going to be Elizabeth Chase when I become an actress,’” she said, referring to her middle name.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage via Getty Images.

These days, Olsen is the one on-screen; Mary-Kate and Ashley shifted their focus to fashion with their label The Row in 2006. At a certain point in their careers, they gave their younger sister some advice: “No is a full sentence.” (It recently went viral on TikTok.) “The word ‘no’ specifically was something that I remember my sisters isolating and it becoming really empowering,” Olsen told Glamour. “And for women, it’s a really empowering word.”

It’s thanks in part to that advice that Olsen felt comfortable pursuing an acting career. “I always felt like I could say ‘no’ in any work situation—if someone was making me feel uncomfortable—and I just feel like that’s what we need. We don’t have to follow suit if it doesn’t feel right. We need to be listening to our gut.”

Funnily enough, Olsen need never have changed her name. In a twist that no one could have predicted in the Olsen twins’ heyday, it was only until Wandavision that some fans discovered Olsen is, well, one of those Olsens, after getting into the Disney+ series. “I FEEL LIKE THIS SHOULD BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN!!!,” one Twitter user exclaimed. (They’ve since deleted the tweet.)