While she plays a character with otherworldly powers, it’s her real-life power off screen that has cemented Millie, now 15 years old, as one of the most prominent voices of the Gen Z generation. After becoming the youngest ever entry on Time magazine’s 100 most influential list, Millie was named UNICEF’s youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador.
“Every move I make is being watched by everyone,” Millie Bobby Brown confides at the launch of her Pandora Me collection. Indeed, after first finding mega-watt fame as Eleven in Stranger Things at the age of 12 the British star has rarely stopped – and neither has the intense attention.
In her rousing speech to the UN to accept the honour, Millie said “I will speak out for the millions of children whose voices have been silenced for far too long. I will shine a light on the issues that vulnerable children have suffered around the world. Including representing them at places they haven’t yet had a seat at the table.”
One thing is clear when spending time with Millie Bobby Brown, she has made her seat at the table and she isn’t relinquishing it. And despite the intense pressure of, ‘being watched by everyone,’ it’s her faith in her own voice and a reassured sense of her self that keeps Millie going. And she just keeps on going! Having recently launched her own ‘clean beauty’ brand targeted at Gen Z, Florence by Mills, Millie is also embarking on producing – and starring – in her first movie, Enola Holmes, which is set to be released next year.
Here as Millie unveils the campaign for Pandora Me, she discusses how the collection’s themes of self-identity and self-discovery have shaped her. From how she deals with negativity and trolling on social media, to making sure her voice is heard in an adult world, Millie also emotionally opens up about how losing her friend to cancer affected her, making her, “grateful for life itself,” and why the next addition to her family might be a pig. Yes. Really.
Q We are here to launch Pandora Me, which you’ve amazingly collaborated on, too. As the collection taps into the themes of self-discovery and self-expression, how do you express your internal self through fashion and jewellery?
A Through jewellery I like keeping it simple and classy. I like that it feels elegant and feminine, but I also do like that tomboyish vibe. It feels kind of masculine, even though it’s a feminine vibe with the charms. And then with style, anything comfy is my style. Even today I was like, ‘these look like pyjamas, I’m going to wear it!’ I would describe myself as a cosy person. I like to stay warm. I like to keep everything internal, like everything. I have a close knit of friends, close family, everything. I like to be in my house. I like to be in my room watching stuff. It sounds like I’m like a hermit, it sounds like I never go outside! I love the outside, but I really like to be cosy and warm and that’s how I would describe me. At least my nature is I try to be as warm as possible and as welcoming. I think that’s when I’m wearing fluffy clothes, people want to cuddle!
Q Pandora Me is about self-discovery – what has your own journey been like with discovering yourself?
A I mean, it’s constantly evolving with me. Starting out in this industry, I started off with so many views that I wouldn’t, I guess, agree with now. And I think it’s more like with the education that I’ve been given, I can really learn more things about who I am as a person and what’s going on in society today. That has definitely shaped me differently. And the more I read, the more I learn about, it has made me grow differently and made me perceive things differently. I’m still growing obviously, but I’ve definitely changed since six years ago. Growth never stops, unfortunately.
Q No matter what age you are we all want to be like, ‘I’m a finished person now. Done,’ but life doesn’t work like that!
A But you’re always consistently one person. And I think, for me, as much as I change, I’m constantly myself in my way. I couldn’t really pinpoint one thing I’m consistent at, but I would say I’m always myself and that’s what keeps me consistent.
Q What is the biggest moment that shaped you, as a person, on that journey of self-discovery?
A Well, I’d say a few years ago I met a young girl, her name was Olivia Hope LoRusso. She had been diagnosed with cancer and I got friends with her for a while. We then became best friends and we spoke every day. And then she sadly passed away. I’m best friends with her sisters, her twin sister, her family – we’re very close. In my new beauty and skincare line called Florence by Mills, we have a dedicated an ‘in memory of’ product about Olivia. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that shaped me as a person because it genuinely made me look around and be grateful for everything I have, and made me grateful for not only my family but life itself, being young and really embracing everything you’ve got in this current moment. And then also trying to help other people. So, I think that was probably one of the biggest shape shifters for me.
Q And you want to carry on achieving it for her memory too…
A Yeah, exactly! Keeping her legacy living on and fighting for research. It’s so important and I think it’s something that has definitely inspired me to get out there and do more.
Q You’re inspiring people across all generations. But when you’re coming to express your inner voice, it’s quite a scary thing to do, no matter how old you are. How difficult has that been for you?
A It can be difficult. I mean sometimes just being a girl is difficult. But not only that, it’s difficult being young. People can really not take you seriously, especially in this industry. It’s very difficult to get your point across and be heard. But I will say, it’s a scary thing. Just in itself expressing who you are is really scary. I’m in a situation which is maybe a little bit different to other young people, but it’s almost the same situation. I’m being watched by everyone and basically every move I make is being watched by everyone. But actually, it’s not different in any way.
There are teenagers out there who are evolving in themselves and they have to go to school every day and deal with whatever they’re dealing with, or whatever they’re dealing with at home. For me, we all face the same complications. It’s how we deal with them and how we react. I would say, it’s scary for me to express myself at times. But then there are moments where I feel very empowered and I feel really great about myself. Like when I produced Enola Holmes, I walked onto set and everybody respected me as a person and as a coworker. I felt really respected, I felt we were both treating each other equally and I felt very empowered by that. I was really moved. I feel like those are the moments where I sit there and I appreciate what it’s like to be treated the same.
Q It’s difficult to be a child as people will talk down to you unnecessarily and with UNICEF you are all about bringing a voice to children. How important is that to you?
A I want my voice to be heard and Greta Thunberg wants her voice to be heard, and all these amazing young people I could think of like Malala Yousafzai, her voice wants to be heard! Imagine the millions of kids who want to be heard and they can’t be, because they’re silenced, or they are ignored, or they are looked down upon for maybe their age or their gender. Whatever their circumstance is, I like that UNICEF gives them a voice, lets them have a seat at the table, lets them talk about what they’re passionate about. It’s so important to have these voices because ultimately it will change the world and ultimately world leaders will have to listen. We are the next generation. You guys won’t be here, it’s going to be us and we’re going to be having to fix the problems that you have created, or you haven’t helped or helped fix.
Q Sitting here right now, what would you say is the most pressing issue for you and for Gen Z today?
A I mean it’s, where do you really want to start? You can go with the fact that every young person deserves to have an education. Every young person, including girls, mostly, deserve to have an education. They deserve to, as equals to boys, go to school and learn. And the fact that social media is still allowing bullies, how is this still happening? Then you’ve got climate change, which is literally the biggest issue of all. Because without that, no one can have education. Without the world, nobody’s going to learn. We need to start taking care of our planet in the best way. So, we’ve got some amazing voices out there that are really, really fighting against this, which I’m in total support of. Probably the biggest pressing matter right now is climate change.
Q It is just so hard because there’s so many big issues going on right now that we will need to fight and sometimes it can get very overwhelming as well…
A You ask yourself how to do I fit into this? For me, I support many causes that are going on. I support protests that are going on and the amazing communities. But there are things that I will stand up and fight for and for me, I think that for everyone to be treated equally in any situation, be that school or workplace, that is what we need to fight for because that literally affects me. I can’t watch someone being spoken down to, no matter who they are. If they’re a two-year-old, or if they’re 70, I don’t care. We should all be treated the same way no matter who we are as people. So that is probably something that, it enrages me. I try to stay calm about it, but I feel like there are some pressing matters that I feel really passionate about, but nothing that I wouldn’t fight for.
Q I think when you were enraged about something, it gives you a passion and a power…
A I was just watching Greta Thunberg’s speech the other day and you hear the passion and the drive that she has in her voice and it inspires you. It makes you think about everything. She has this amazing tone to her where you hear it in her voice that she’s struggling to even think about what’s going on to this world, and this is crazy.
Q You are surrounded by such an amazing community of people as well. What piece of advice has someone given you that’s really shaped you as a person?
A My mum. Just whatever happens will happen. Like, legitimately, if something’s going to happen, you’ve just got to let it happen. You’ve got to accept it and let it go. I’ve used that in every part of my life, if that’s with a friend, if that’s with my work, if that’s with something that’s going on with me as a person. Whatever is happening to me, if I can’t help and change it then I have to accept it and let it go. And that’s something I’ve learned, which can be difficult. But ultimately, it’s good for your soul to just let go.
Q Sometimes you just have to do that for your own self-care…
A Yes! At a certain amount of toxic, it gets too much at some point and you have to realise that every decision you make has to be good for you. And that’s what I’ve learned, for sure, which is young! I’m not a people pleaser, but I love to make sure everybody’s happy. And my mum says ultimately you can’t make everyone happy, you know? So, I feel like that my mum gives some good advice.
Q When it comes to social media, it’s the most amazing platform that we have today to mobilise people, but there’s also a very negative element to it as well with social media trolls and bullies. How do you switch off from that and how do you separate yourself from negativity?
A I think I’m constantly switched off from social media. I mean, there’s a certain amount of love I have for social media, but I have realised that actually what I post on social media is me. I don’t ever want to post anything that doesn’t feel like me. So, until social media becomes a place that I think is acceptable, which is a positive place to spread love and light, funny memes and just love and appreciation for everyone. And when some people are not allowed on social media –mentioning no names – I will then appreciate social media. But until that becomes a positive, more positive place, less political, more fun, lighthearted. We need to appreciate that actually with all the stuff that’s going on in the world, we need to spread a positive message. It’s very important to spread messages. Social media is a great place to do that, but it becomes so hateful and it becomes so violent and aggressive and I just – and nobody – needs that. No young person needs that in their life, especially on their phone that they can just take anywhere they want. I love social media. I love my fans and I love posting funny things, but until it changes a little, that’s when I’ll appreciate it.
Q And now you are becoming a beauty mogul – I mean, honey, take a day off!
A Yeah, no, I am, trust me. No, I love it. I love every second of it. It’s so fun. Everything I’ve been doing is because I want to do it, that’s what I love. I’m in total control of everything that I’m doing, and I have the best family to support me through that and the best team to support me through that. But no, three years ago I was like, ‘I want to make beauty and skincare for people that, first of all, can’t afford the boujee products that you put on your face. And second of all, things that are good for you, like actually good for you, tested. And that makes you feel good about yourself.’ And you’re not like piling a bunch of makeup on your face that you don’t need to. You’re already beautiful. That’s what I wanted to make. I was like you don’t need to look beautiful, you already are. What I was about was adding to the beauty you already have. I was really excited about that. It’s scary to go to new spaces because you never know how people are going to react or if they are going to take you seriously. It’s so difficult. But if you have passion, drive and confidence, it will get you through it.
Q What do you use to empower you in those moments when you doubt yourself?
A I feel like I’ve worked hard. I try to, at least. I would say the tired nights where I’ve just finished at 5AM at work and go straight on a plane to go to this place, those are the things that I appreciate and I say, “You know what? I deserve this. I deserve to go and meet these people, and I deserve to go and talk to my fans, and I deserve to go on a vacation.” You have to look in the mirror and say – like you do I’m sure, or somebody even my age that have just done exams – ‘I deserve a week to chill out.’ As people we need to appreciate that rest and sleep and all that good stuff is really, really, really important. Especially as a teenager, it’s your most forming years.
Q If you there is someone watching this who might be doubting themselves what kind of rallying call message would you want to give to them?
A Listen to Lizzo because she just empowers me. I’m like, wow. I’ll be in my room and when she’s like, ‘check my nails,’ I’m just like, ‘yes!’ Look in the mirror, look at yourself and feel beautiful. It’s hard. It’s hard, but once you get there, eventually. You genuinely have to look at yourself and feel beautiful inside and out.
Q Everybody is going to be dressing up as you for Halloween but who are you going to dress up as?
Q Your escapism has become your own petting zoo too, you are the mother of tortoises now…
A Yes! I am begging my Dad to let me have a pig for my 16th birthday, too. I was thinking of getting a horse, but a pig would be much better!