In a new cover story for Glamour UK's May digital cover, actor Millie Bobby Brown shared how bullying led to anxiety when she was growing up. The 15-year-old Stranger Things star, who became UNICEF'S youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador last year at 14 (!), was interviewed by fellow ambassador Orlando Bloom for the profile. One of the key focuses of Brown’s activism revolves around bullying — something that she experienced firsthand while growing up in the public eye. Despite this, she demonstrated her resilience and plans to combat bullying in the interview, where Brown revealed that she’d been left “soul destroyed” by bullies both on social media and at school.
Speaking on her experience growing up in England, Brown mentioned that she’d been bullied so much that she had to change schools as a result. “It created a lot of anxiety and issues that I still deal with today,” Brown told Glamour. “I have dealt with situations both in real life and online that are soul breaking and it genuinely hurts reading some of the things people have said.” Brown made it clear in the interview that one of her goals is to “combat the negativity on social media,” comparing it to a disease. Throughout the conversation, Brown addressed how she wants to help provide a voice to young people, the dual nature of social media, and how her own school days informed her activism.
And though Brown has a devoted fan base and plays a beloved character on TV, she’s no stranger to online hate, either. Brown famously quit Twitter in summer 2018 (though her secondary anti-bullying account, @milliestopshate, is still live). The troll-generated hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown began circulating the platform shortly after, though users insisted the memes and hashtag were a joke. Later that summer, in a video aired during the MTV Movie & TV Awards, she addressed the incident in her award acceptance speech, saying, “[Young people and adults] could probably use the reminder that I was taught: if you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it. There should be no space in this world for bullying, and I’m not going to tolerate it, and neither should any of you.”
Brown is just one of many people in the public eye who've opened up about their experiences with bullying and its consequences. Comedian Pete Davidson has spoken numerous times about the toll online hate has taken on him. More recently, the online vitriol surrounding drama in the YouTube beauty blogger community has become a symbol of social media's nastier side. Basically, it's clear that Brown's experience isn't exactly a one-off.
In a life-imitating-art moment, Bloom notes how Brown's Stranger Things character Eleven also discovers and grows into her own power throughout the series. “I have learned a lot from Eleven,” Brown admitted. “Yes, she’s powerful, but she is also a loyal friend and protector. Even though she’s still learning how to use her voice, her resilience, loyalty and strength inspires me.”
Brown concluded in the interview that her message is “always to spread love, light and positivity.” If she's a reflection of what Gen Z has to offer, the future's looking brighter already.