Millie Bobby Brown has been auditioning for roles since she was in single digits and in the spotlight almost as long. The actress was catapulted to stardom in 2016 with her role in Netflix’s Stranger Things as the supernaturally inclined Eleven. Brown is now of age and able to set boundaries around her fame, but it’s been a hard lesson to get there. In a new interview with Allure, Brown talked about how cyberbullying and the exposure of her personal relationships sent her into retreat for a year to heal.
The actress has been facing constant sexualization, harassment, and trolling online and has deleted both her Twitter and TikTok accounts. She has an assistant who manages her Instagram and Facebook pages and when she does want to communicate directly with fans, she tends to do so through more formal blog posts so “nobody can comment.”
These choices were made after a lot of ugly experience and Brown told the publication how hard it was to be facing so much negativity while she was still figuring herself out.
“It’s really hard to be hated on when you don’t know who you are yet,” she said. “So it’s like, ‘What do they hate about me? ’Cause I don’t know who I am.’ It’s almost like, ‘Okay, I’m going to try being this today.’ [And then they say], ‘Oh, no, I hate that.’ ‘Okay. Forget that. I’m going to try being this today.’ ‘Oh, my God! I hate when you do that.’ Then you just start shutting down because you’re like, ‘Who am I meant to be? Who do they need me to be for them?’ Then I started to grow more, and my family and friends really helped. It helped to be able to understand that I don’t need to be anything they said that I need to be. I just have to develop within myself. That’s what I did...That’s what I’m doing.”
Things were at their worst for Brown in 2020, when she began a relationship with TikTok star Hunter Ecimovic. In the summer of 2021, he exposed more about their relationship in a livestream, saying that he had “groomed” Brown and then lived at her house for eight months. She had split with him in January of that year, but having her privacy further violated was incredibly difficult.
“I felt very vulnerable,” Brown said. “Also, no one on the set knew I was going through this. So it was kind of nice to be able to just deal with that myself and no one else knew. Then it was harder when the whole world knew.”
She has since begun dating Jake Bongiovi, son of the famous musician Jon Bon Jovi. It took time for her to get to a better place.
“It was a year of healing,” she explained. “When you get publicly humiliated this way, I felt so out of control and powerless. Walking away and knowing that I’m worth everything and this person didn’t take anything from me, it felt very empowering. It felt like my life had finally turned a page and that I actually had ended a chapter that felt so fucking long.”
Brown added, “Ultimately, all I wanted to do within my career is help young girls and young people out there know that I, too, go through things. I’m not this perfect person that is selling skin-care products and [who is] in Stranger Things. I absolutely have made wrong decisions.”