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Millie Bobby Brown: From Childhood To Damsel

Millie Bobby Brown rose to fame after her starring role as Eleven in the popular Netflix sci-fi series "Stranger Things." Brown was just 12 years old when the series debuted, and she was immediately thrust into the spotlight and the positive and negative ramifications that come with it. She's since enchanted audiences with her other work, her love for animals, and her once-iconic Instagram Lives. 

"Stranger Things" wasn't her first role, and it certainly won't be her last. She began her career as an actress at 8 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. Brown has appeared in a variety of projects during her career, from fairy tale spin-offs to horror projects and fantasy adventures that let her stretch her wings as a producer. She's even created work of her own, co-writing with Kathleen McGurl her debut novel, "Nineteen Steps," in 2023. From her childhood through her Netflix hit "Damsel," here is everything you need to know about actress, author, model, producer, and megastar Millie Bobby Brown.

She was born in Spain before arriving in Los Angeles to pursue acting

Millie Bobby Brown was born in Spain but moved to England after four years. Brown was born with partial hearing loss in her left ear. Over time, this developed into total hearing loss, leaving her deaf in that ear. After another four years living in England, her family decided to move to Orlando. The actress is the second youngest of her siblings — perhaps growing up with two brothers and one sister helped the young actress get along so well with her castmates in "Stranger Things."

Brown said acting was always her dream job. "I've always loved kind of performing," she said in a WIRED interview. "I became an actor by just being bored on a Saturday." She was just 8 years old when her parents decided to help support her dreams of acting come true by moving the family to Los Angeles. "[Acting] was like a bug," she told Variety. "I know this sounds crazy, but once I find something I want to do, nobody's stopping me." Brown didn't train professionally as an actor; she just chose to be one and, thankfully, is really good at it.

Her first role was in a Once Upon a Time spin-off

"Once Upon a Time" was a popular ABC series that featured all of your favorite Disney and fairy tale characters, from Snow White to Captain Hook. With its popularity, ABC developed several spin-offs, including "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," which aired from 2013 to 2014. The spin-off only received one season of 13 episodes.

The show follows Alice (Sophie Lowe) from the classic novels "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" while Wonderland is under the influence of a dark spell. Members of Wonderland like the Red Queen (Emma Rigby) and the Jabberwocky in addition to other characters from the "Once Upon a Time" universe like Cinderella (Jessy Schram) and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire).

The fantasy series marked Millie Bobby Brown's first role as an actress. She appeared in two episodes of the show as a young Alice. "I dyed my hair blonde," she said in a behind-the-scenes featurette about her career (via YouTube). "I put blue contacts in. I'm shocked that I got the role, because I look nothing like Alice in Wonderland."

Her first starring role came before Stranger Things

Though many know her for her breakout role in "Stranger Things," Mille Bobby Brown's first leading role was in a different television series. The BBC America and BBC Two series "Intruders" featured the actress, then only 10 years old, as Madison O'Donnell.

The paranormal drama series follows Jack Whelan (John Simm), a former Los Angeles Police Department detective who gets caught up in a conspiracy about a secret society. The society is trying to become immortal by taking over the bodies of other individuals with their souls. One of their followers takes over the body of his wife, Amy (Mira Sorvino). Madison is a 9-year-old girl whose body is also taken over, this time by the spirit of a serial killer. She continually fights to regain control of her body from the other spirit, eventually forcing him out after her body is injured.

At the time, Brown was going by Millie Brown. In a promotional piece by BBC America, Simm proclaimed, "Millie Brown is a superstar. You heard it here first." Other members of the cast and crew are also complimentary, including director Daniel Stamm. Despite reservations about working so much with a child actor, Stamm said, "She blew me away. She was just so natural, and she could just switch on that creepy side that you needed for that character."

She continued to have episodic roles in major TV shows

Millie Bobby Brown continued to appear on the small screen, landing episodic roles in several popular TV shows. In 2014, she appeared in Season 12 of "NCIS" in a villainous role. In the episode, the team is investigating the suspicious death of a Navy SEAL's wife. Brown plays Rachel, the couple's daughter, who seems innocent at first but soon proves to be a sociopath responsible for her mother's death.

In 2015, Brown branched into different genres, appearing in a medical drama and a sitcom. Fans of "Modern Family" may recognize the actress from the Season 6 episode "Closet? You'll Love It!" Brown is Lizzie, a girl who lives on Manny's (Rico Rodriguez) street. He steals a bike from her as he, Phil (Ty Burrell), and Luke (Nolan Gould) chase after a drone that's been appearing in Manny's backyard.

She also made an appearance in an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" in the show's 11th season. In the episode "I Feel the Earth Move," the hospital is dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake. A young girl named Ruby, played by Brown, receives help from Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) over the phone after her mother falls at their remote cabin during the earthquake.

Stranger Things was her big break

Of course, Millie Bobby Brown is now well-known for her role as Eleven in Netflix's "Stranger Things." The series takes place in a small town in Indiana in the '80s as the residents are exposed to the Upside Down, an alternate reality that houses some scary things. Brown stars as Eleven, a young girl with psychokinetic and telepathic powers being experimented on at Hawkins National Laboratory, the place responsible for creating an opening between the real world and the Upside Down.

Before "Stranger Things," Brown had been told she'd have a hard time making it in the industry. The young actor was too mature for her age, one casting director told her — though that maturity helped her nail complicated roles on "Intruders" and "NCIS." Nevertheless, Brown felt down about her acting career before auditioning for "Stranger Things" but agreed to do one last taped audition for a project she said she thought looked cool. That self-tape led to the role that propelled her to stardom. Brown said that portraying Eleven helped Brown realize the importance of on-screen representation and also allowed her to connect with other young actors growing up in Hollywood.

While starring as Eleven, Brown has been nominated for two Emmy awards and won a Screen Actors Guild award with the cast, in addition to various nominations and awards from the Teen Choice Awards, MTV Movie & TV Awards, and the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The actress will always carry the character with her, having Eleven's tattoo on her wrist.

She's appeared in music videos for Drake, The xx, and more

In addition to a career on television, Millie Bobby Brown appears in several music videos. Her first was for the Sigma song "Find Me" in 2016. The actress stars in the video, seen in various locations singing along to the music. Her next music video came in 2017 with The xx's "I Dare You." Brown is one of several individuals featured in the video. She plays a student who misses the bus and ends up on an adventure with her older sister.

Her third music video was Maroon 5's "Girl Like You." Numerous female celebrities made cameos in the 2018 video as well, including actress Gal Gadot, gymnast Aly Raisman, snowboarder Chloe Kim, and comedian Sarah Silverman. In the video, Brown is rocking space buns and gives a kiss to the camera. In the same year, the actress was in a Drake music video for his song "In My Feelings." She is shown dancing along to the song with co-star Noah Schnapp at the end of the video. Brown also appeared in a 2019 music video for Mariah Carey's holiday hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You."

She quit Twitter after being bullied

As Millie Bobby Brown's star began to rise, she dealt with internet trolls. However, they took things too far, resulting in the then-14-year-old deleting her official Twitter account in June 2018.

As reported by People, a meme that linked the actress with homophobic comments began to circulate on the social media site, resulting in the trending hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown. According to Vox, the ordeal began when a user tweeted a fake story about the actress refusing to take a photo with them while using homophobic slurs. The meme, as well as additional fake stories, went viral on the app. Not realizing the origin, many thought these were real statements made by Brown. Users started using the aforementioned hashtag in an attempt to cancel her. At the time, Brown's stance as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community was known. She wore a GLAAD pin to the MTV Music Awards the previous year as she accepted her award for best actor.

In an interview with Allure Magazine, Brown shared that she has gone to therapy to help work through the bullying and different comments she received through social media. In addition to the trolling previously described, she encountered threatening and inappropriate content from adult followers as a child. The actress' only known Twitter account is now @Milliestopshate, an account with positivity in mind. She last posted to the account in December 2019.

Brown ventured into film and became a producer

Millie Bobby Brown's career only continued to grow as she made the jump from television to movies. Her first movie was "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," the third film in the MonsterVerse. She portrays Madison Russell, the daughter of Vera Farmiga's Emma and Kyle Chandler's Mark. Alongside her mother, Madison is kidnapped by ecoterrorists in the film, learning more about her mother's goals and denouncing them. Brown reprised her role in the 2021 sequel "Godzilla vs. Kong," taking part in more Godzilla action and reconnecting with her dad.

She leveraged her connections with Netflix and Legendary Pictures to produce and star in the young adult novel adaptations "Enola Holmes" and "Enolma Holmes 2." This was a lifelong dream for Brown, who had wanted to bring Enola Holmes to the big screen since she was only 13 years old. The movies follow Sherlock Holmes' (Henry Cavill) teenage sister Enola (Brown) as she becomes a detective in her own right. The first film features Enola as she tries to track down her missing mother (Helena Bonham Carter), while the second finds her looking for a missing girl as she struggles to find clients for her newly opened detective agency.

With her production company PCMA Productions, Brown produced both "Enola Holmes" movies and her 2024 fantasy action film "Damsel." She and her family founded the company.

She enrolled at Purdue University

It was big news when Millie Bobby Brown, who grew up in the public eye, announced where she would be attending college. In a 2022 interview with Allure Magazine, the actress shared that she was going to school online through Purdue University. She's completing a degree in human services, which Brown describes in the interview as a degree path where "you learn about the system and how to help young people." Since she splits her time between the United States and England, it makes sense the actress decided to complete her further online.

Of course, the location of the university, though she isn't attending in person, caught fans' attention. Purdue is located in Indiana. Though not in Hawkins, Indiana, the town "Stranger Things" takes place, the university has been mentioned in the show before. A shirt with the school name emblazoned on it appeared in the third season. A replica of the '80s-styled shirt was, for a limited time, sold online as Purdue merchandise for any fans who want to show some school spirit. 

She got engaged to a rock star's son

In April 2023, Millie Bobby Brown announced she was engaged to Jake Bongiovi, son of Jon Bon Jovi. The two have been together since 2021. The actress announced their engagement with a black and white photo on her Instagram, using a Taylor Swift lyric and a white heart emoji as a caption. The two started as friends, as described by the actress to WIRED. "We met on Instagram," she said. "We were friends for a bit, and then, what can I say?" The two bonded over shared interests.

"We got our diving licenses together," Brown shared on "The Tonight Show." While on vacation, he suggested diving at a spot they had visited before. Brown wanted to go somewhere new, but he was adamant they had to go back. During the dive, he proposed underwater. After they came to the surface, she put on the ring, only for it to fall into the water. "Jake threw himself into the water," the actress continued. "He does a cinematic-like grab, opens [his hand], and he saved the ring."

Bon Jovi is happy for the couple, sharing his excitement for them in an interview with The Times U.K. "I've gotten to know her in the last year, she works really hard, and she and Jake will grow together in their own way," he commented. "They're gonna be great together."

Millie Bobby Brown wrote a book

Taking her talents from the screen to the page, Millie Bobby Brown wrote the novel "Nineteen Steps" with collaborator Kathleen McGurl. The novel was published in September 2023. The book is loosely based on Brown's grandmother's story and life during World War II. Brown's co-author, McGurl, is a historical mystery author with over a dozen books under her byline.

"[My grandma] would tell me stories from her childhood, living through World War II," Brown shared on "Good Morning America." "When I got older and started kind of getting into the industry, I thought these stories felt so important to me, and I was really passionate about bringing these stories to life." The plot follows a young adult named Nellie who has her life changed forever when she meets an American airman during the war.

In The New York Times' review of the novel, critic Jessica Francis Kane compliments the historical importance and significance of "Nineteen Steps." The story highlights the Bethnal Green tube station disaster, cited by the article as "the largest civilian tragedy" of World War II, albeit one not many people know about. Brown's grandmother was a survivor of the event, telling her stories to her granddaughter and ensuring that the story isn't lost to time.

She's known for her multitude of pets

Millie Bobby Brown has a veritable menagerie of pets, from dogs to a donkey she calls Bernard. She calls rescuing animals a "hobby," and she said she specifically likes to rescue senior dogs. As part of that love for animals, Brown is heavily involved with the animal rescue Joey's Friends. The actress regularly appears on the rescue's Instagram, sharing the stories of the different animals up for adoption. Brown also fosters animals, helping them get adopted through her work with Joey's Friends. She and Jake Bongiovi helped foster a dog named Shark from the Humane Society Naples. The shelter posted photos of the two with the dog on Instagram, thanking her for the visit.

When Brown visited "The Drew Barrymore Show," she had nine dogs and was fostering 23. She credits her desire to have animals as the reason she moved out of her parents' house. Though she still lives next door to them in Atlanta, the actress had to move out if she wanted to have more pets. "When I turned 18, I was like, 'I want another dog,'" she shared on "The Drew Barrymore Show." "I want a rabbit, I want farm animals, so I moved out, and I moved next door."

Damsel continues her collaboration with Netflix

Despite the confirmation that the fifth season of "Stranger Things" is the last — and that Millie Bobby Brown is ready for the show to finally end — she and Netflix aren't parting ways anytime soon. Her 2024 movie "Damsel" was produced for the streamer, seeing Brown play Elodie, a princess marrying a prince (Nick Robinson) to help save her kingdom. However, she later finds out that the arrangement wasn't meant to be in her favor, and Elodie winds up in combat with a fire-breathing dragon. The actress got to do several of her own stunts on the project, from wirework to a dramatic jump between two caves.

She has another Netflix project in the works as both the star and producer. The streamer is adapting the YA thriller novel "The Girls I've Been" by Tess Sharpe. It follows the daughter of a con man who is a hostage during a bank job. Audiences will also be able to see her on the streamer in the star-packed movie "The Electric State." Brown appears in the movie alongside Christ Pratt, Stanley Tucci, and Michelle Yeoh. Brown is playing an orphan who sets out on an adventure across the American West.