The Complete Evolution Of Millie Bobby Brown
It may seem like only a few years ago that you first saw Millie Bobby Brown with her shaved head and Eggo waffles while playing her breakout role as Eleven in “Stranger Things.” It’s almost unbelievable that it was more than five years ago. But you only have to look at the actress now to see just how much time has passed. She’s gone from being a young girl primarily known for her role in the Netflix series to being an accomplished actress coming into her own and figuring out her way.
With the recent release of “Stranger Things” Season 4 and the promotions the cast has been doing, fans have had the chance to see how much the child stars have grown up. It’s exciting to see just how far Brown has come in her career, following her passions and speaking up for what’s important to her over the years. Continue reading to see the stunning transformation of Millie Bobby Brown.
Millie Bobby Brown’s exciting childhood
Although she’s now a world-famous actress, Millie Bobby Brown started out like anyone else. Born in Spain in 2004, Brown was the youngest of her two siblings, Paige Brown and Charlie Brown (via Hollywood Life). Her parents have since had a fourth child: the actress’s youngest sibling, Ava Brown. The family moved a lot throughout Brown’s childhood (via Biography), and when she was just four years old, she made her very first international move from Spain back to the U.K., where her parents were originally from. Four years later, Brown and her family made an even more significant move across the Atlantic to the U.S. for her parents to start an entrepreneurial business in Orlando, Florida. The family later took an even more considerable big risk by moving once more from Orlando to Los Angeles in order for Brown to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress.
She didn’t have any formal acting training
Millie Bobby Brown was only 8 years old when she decided she wanted to be an actress. She’d had no training or real experience up to that point, but she knew it was what she wanted to do. “It was like a bug,” she told Variety in 2017. “I know this sounds crazy, but once I find something I want to do, nobody’s stopping me.” And luckily, her family believed in her enough to let her pursue her passion. Brown had a few smaller TV roles before achieving the wild success she has today. She was first cast as young Alice in “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.” A role followed that in “Intruders” and guest star spots in “NCIS,” “Modern Family,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” (via IMDb).
Despite not having formal training, Brown’s intuitive ability impressed even the most seasoned industry professionals. According to Variety, executive producers, casting directors, and co-stars agreed they had never seen a child actor quite like her.
Millie Bobby Brown lost hearing in one ear
Even the biggest Millie Bobby Brown fans may not realize that the actor has actually only had partial hearing since her birth. Over time, she has fully lost all hearing in one ear. Apparently, this means that she can’t properly hear herself when she’s acting and singing. Of course, that hasn’t stopped her. In fact, she still sings even though she can’t tell if she sounds good. “I just started to sing, and if I sound bad I don’t care, because I’m just doing what I love,” she told Variety.
In another interview, Brown explained that her partial hearing made acting tricky sometimes, too. “I’ve always had bad ears and [could] never really, like, hear anyone,” she told Studio 10 (via YouTube). On the set of “Stranger Things,” the actor apparently needed to have extra support, with assistants standing near her to call “action.” “They’d have to say it really loud or, like, make a sign so that I could watch them because I would never be able to hear them,” she said.
She almost quit acting before she landed Stranger Things
Despite the few TV parts she landed as a young actress, Millie Bobby Brown began to get discouraged by the industry as she struggled to get more prominent roles. During an interview on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Brown recalled how she felt, saying, “This industry is just full of rejection, 24/7. You get far more nos — a lot of nos — before you get a yes. I was auditioning for commercials, for anything, really.”
She said that she had her biggest moment of doubt after auditioning for “Game of Thrones.” That particular rejection made her question everything, and she said she considered giving up acting entirely. “That’s kind of when I was like, ‘Oh, this is really difficult,’ because I guess I really wanted that role,” she said. Fortunately, she decided to stick it out and audition for one more Netflix show, “Montauk” — the original working title of “Stranger Things.” About two months later, she Skyped with the creators and got the part.
She didn’t mind shaving her head for Stranger Things
When we think of Millie Bobby Brown, many of us still picture her as a young girl playing her breakout role of Eleven in “Stranger Things.” The show, specifically her character, has been a pop culture sensation. Her character, Eleven, was distinct for many reasons. She had telepathic abilities, hardly spoke, and of course, her shaved head made her instantly recognizable.
While many actors far more mature than Brown may have been upset by such a drastic look change, even as a child, the actress wasn‘t scared to commit to the role and shave her head for the show. The show’s executive producer Matt Duffer told Variety that Brown’s parents were more worried about the head-shaving than their daughter was. Duffer said he remembered reassuring them by talking about Charlize Theron’s famous role in “Mad Max Fury Road,” which was a recent success at the time. “Doesn’t Charlize look badass? You’re going to look badass too,” Duffer told them.
Playing Eleven changed everything for her
Though Millie Bobby Brown felt discouraged by the entertainment industry and how many “nos” she got, everything changed after “Stranger Things” Season 1 premiered. The show was an instant sensation and made quite an impact on people. Having such a large part allowed everyone to see just how talented of an actress she was. Brown may have been only 11 years old at the time, but her ability blew away the creators. “We have yet to give her something that she’s unable to do,” Matt Duffer told Variety. “It’s like a singer who can hit any note. Her range is just absolutely incredible. I have yet to see any limits to it.”
Plenty of other people recognized that talent. After the series came out, she went from having just 25 Instagram followers to 4.2 million — a number that continues to climb. Her career had rocketed to a whole new level.
Millie Bobby Brown was nominated for her first Emmy at 13
Following her outstanding performance in “Stranger Things,” Millie Bobby Brown was recognized with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. While that’s an impressive accomplishment for any actor, at just 13 years old, Brown had the added honor of being one of the youngest actors ever to be nominated for an Emmy.
Speaking to E! on the Emmy red carpet, the young actress was still struggling to process her groundbreaking nomination (via YouTube). “Obviously, I’m very, very grateful, but like I haven’t processed it yet. It’s not like sunk in. I think it should have by now, but it still hasn’t.”
Brown was also nominated a year later for the same award. Although she didn’t win either time, just being nominated was a huge honor and shows how much talent the child star has. After her 2018 nomination, the “Stranger Things” star took to Instagram to share a heartfelt post about her nomination and the other 11 recognitions that the series received from the academy, including a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series and Best Writing for a Drama Series. Her post, later quoted by Tiger Beat, read, “12 nominations for our show! I love this cast and crew so much and I’m beyond thrilled to see how much ‘Stranger Things’ has been embraced by our peers and the Academy.”
She embraced Eleven’s darker side
Perhaps one of the things that made Millie Bobby Brown stand out most in her “Stranger Things” performance was the way she embraced the more sinister parts of her character. Although Eleven is only a young girl in the series, she has powers that make her quite dangerous and, at times, lethal. For instance, her character has an intense stare that she uses when enacting her powers. Brown first did that stare during her audition process for the series, and it was one of the things that let the creators know she was right for the part. Executive producer Shawn Levy told Variety, “I’ve never forgotten it because it was so intuitive . That this little person had such fierce power — that’s what took me aback.”
Brown said that she appreciates those darker sides of her character and enjoys embracing them. She told Vogue, “I think if you saw my filming in general, you would see a different Millie. I get very into character, and I become goth. I don’t wear makeup for the eight months, I don’t do my hair, I don’t wear colors.” She said she often only wore black sweaters and beanies during the shooting schedule. “I become this whole different Millie, and it is just more deep and intense, and I love it,” Brown added.
She wasn’t scared to speak out on political issues
Though she entered the spotlight at a young age, Millie Bobby Brown has still had her own opinions, and she hasn’t been scared to make them known. In 2017, the actress won an award for Best Actor at the MTV Movie and TV Awards for her role as Eleven in “Stranger Things.” When she accepted her award, she wore two notable blue pins on the front of the dress. Vanity Fair pointed out the darker blue ribbon was in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the lighter blue ampersand pin was for Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Together.
She let her fashion speak for itself once more at the 2018 Kids’ Choice Awards, where she wore an all-denim outfit featuring the names of the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting on its back. Brown also used her acceptance speech to promote the March for Our Lives demonstrations saying, “As we saw a moment ago, the March for Our Lives demonstrations that took place all over the world today have inspired me and impacted us all in one way or another.” She continued, “I get to be up here, and I’m privileged to have a voice that can be heard, one that I can use to hopefully make a positive difference and help influence change” (via YouTube).
Millie Bobby Brown and her sister produced Enola Holmes
After starring in “Stranger Things” and “Godzilla,” Millie Bobby Brown found her next franchise with “Enola Holmes.” The story followed Sherlock Holmes’ little sister, Enola, as she solved her own mysteries. The actress told Deadline that she wanted to play Enola when she and her sister, Paige, read the Nancy Springer book series. “But I was 11, 12 years old, and the character was 16, so I always knew it would be more of a future ambition,” Brown explained. After a few years, she approached her father about the idea, and they partnered with Legendary Entertainment. “They always appreciated my voice, they valued it, which I always loved,” the actress said. “I knew this was something I could really talk about with them and feel comfortable with working with them because of my past relationship.”
“Enola Holmes” was the first project the Brown sisters produced together. However, Paige had been helping Millie with behind-the-scenes work before then, so the creative partnership felt like a natural progression. The sisters told the Los Angeles Times that they worked efficiently together and didn’t have many creative differences in bringing the story to life. “I was starring in the film, so I was focused very much on that,” Millie said. “But I’ve always been into production . so this was a great opportunity for me.”
She’s developed some anxiety around her fame
Though her stardom has given Millie Bobby Brown many opportunities that others don’t have, it’s also been a lot in which to adjust. Growing up in the spotlight came with a lot of pressure, and she said she sometimes felt overwhelmed by the invasiveness of fame. After one upsetting fan encounter, Brown took to her Instagram to discuss the interaction in an emotional video. The actress had been doing her Christmas shopping when a fan asked if they could film her, but when Brown said “no,” the fan ignored her wishes and continued recording her. Metro quoted Brown’s Instagram Story, in which she said, “I’m a human being, like, what more can I ask from you?” Later in the same video, the star added, “It just makes me upset when people try to push the boundary, and I just wish people were more respectful.”
During an interview with MTV News (via YouTube), Brown further discussed her perspective on becoming famous. She said that when she started gaining recognition, she was young enough that she didn’t think much about fame. “Whereas now, as much as I’m very grateful for it, I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while. I’ve definitely struggled with the fame aspect more nowadays . I am a normal girl, and I’m figuring everything out myself.”
Getting her driver’s license was a big deal
Rising to fame at such a young age has changed Millie Bobby Brown’s life forever, and there are plenty of ways her world has been entirely different from anyone else her age. However, there are ways that she’s been able to remain a typical teenager — and just like so many teens, she was excited to get her license as soon as possible.
Speaking to MTV News in 2021 (via YouTube), the actress discussed how passing her driver’s test was a significant milestone. “Setting personal goals for myself is definitely one of my priorities,” she told the interviewer. “I said, ‘I want to graduate high school a year early, and I definitely want to get my driver’s license as soon as possible.’ For me, those are two of my biggest things.” It’s nice to see that despite all her success, Brown still values her education and learning essential life skills. Although her high-demand schedule made it impossible to attend public school, the actress has stayed on top of her education by homeschooling and said it was an excellent option for her (via Twitter).
Some fans weren’t ready to see Millie Bobby Brown grow up
Because most of Millie Bobby Brown’s following first discovered her as Eleven in Season 1 of “Stranger Things,” many still see her as that young girl. However, in a 2021 interview with MTV News (via YouTube), she said she was cast as Eleven when she was just 10 years old and had grown a lot since. “I’m only 17, but at the end of the day, I’m learning to be a woman, I’m learning to be a young woman,” Brown said at the time. But while she feels entirely ready for that transitional period, she said many of her fans struggle to accept her growing up.
The actress described several times she’s worn different outfits like a crop top or high heels and received backlash because people thought she was dressing too old for her age. She also explained that she thinks those reactions are because those fans have become invested in her, “but they aren’t ready to accept the fact that [I’m] growing up.” She added, “It’s kind of like I have 50 million people like my parents.”
The ‘gross’ way she’s been objectified
Growing up as a young woman in the public eye, everything Millie Bobby Brown does is put under a microscope. During an interview with “The Guilty Feminist” (via Today), Brown explained, “I deal with the same things any 18-year-old is dealing with, navigating being an adult and having relationships and friendships, and it’s all of those things . The only difference is that, obviously, I’m doing that in the public eye. So it can be really overwhelming.”
Since the start of her career, Brown’s appearance and style have been under seemingly constant scrutiny. She recalled a time she’d worn a lower-cut dress to an award show and been “crucified” online for the choice. “I thought, ‘Is this really what we’re talking about?'” Brown said. Although she’s been dealing with those kinds of comments for years, the “Stranger Things” star said she noticed a difference in how the media and people talk about her since she turned 18. “I believe that shouldn’t change anything, but it’s gross and it’s true,” she said, and added, “it’s a very good representation of what’s going on in the world and how young girls are sexualized.”
Her dramatic change in appearance
The actress shocked the public in 2022 with a dramatic change of appearance. While promoting “Stranger Things” Season 4, Millie Bobby Brown traded her naturally dark hair for long, honey-blonde waves, setting her apart from her iconic characters like Eleven and Enola Holmes and showing that she’s coming into her own.
She appeared on Today with her “Stranger Things” costar Noah Schnapp. Both actors have grown a lot and are almost unrecognizable as the kids viewers saw in Season 1. Brown spoke about how much the hit show’s cast has changed over the years. “We get it a lot, I don’t think it necessarily bothers us, but we have had a dramatic look change,” she said. But, despite how much they’ve grown, Brown said she’s not quite ready to say goodbye to “Stranger Things.” “I don’t think we can come to terms with it, it’s like leaving high school, it’s all we’ve known our whole lives,” she explained (via Daily Mail).
She launched her own makeup and skin care brand, Florence by Mills
In 2019, Millie Bobby Brown took her passion for makeup to the next level when she launched her very own beauty line, Florence by Mills. As the launch announcement explained, the line focuses on offering clean, natural products geared toward a Gen Z audience. “I wanted to create something for me and my generation, my friends and peers,” Brown said in a statement at the time (via PR Newswire). “A brand that could reflect us and our self-expression and still be good for you, simple to use and suited for changing, transitional skin. Being young in general is so tough, so creating a place to support everyone on their beauty journey was important to me.”
The brand was an immediate success. In fact, as Vogue France reported, it was one of the most influential beauty brands in the year of its launch. As of 2023, Florence by Mills now sells skin care, makeup, hair care, and even beauty accessories.
Millie Bobby Brown has been in a serious relationship with Jake Bongiovi since 2021
Millie Bobby Brown was seen with Jake Bongiovi, son of singer Jon Bon Jovi, back in 2021 when photos were snapped of the pair in New York. Brown later revealed how the pair had met. “We met on Instagram,” she told Wired (via YouTube). “And we were friends for a bit, and then, what can I say?” Since then, the pair have been spotted at premieres and frequently appear together on each other’s social media outlets. They’ve even appeared on Instagram doing a Taylor Swift singalong together. Could they be any cuter?
Brown announced her engagement to Bongiovi on Instagram in April 2023 when she posted a photo of her with Bongiovi and an engagement ring. “I’ve loved you three summers now, honey, I want ’em all,” she wrote in the caption, quoting “Lover” by Taylor Swift.
Millie Bobby Brown started college in 2022
Even though Millie Bobby Brown has a hugely successful career as both an actor and a business owner, after graduating from high school, she decided to continue her education by enrolling in college. As of 2023, the star is studying human services online at Purdue University. “You learn about the system and how to help young people,” she told Allure of the program. According to the university’s official website, the degree involves 15 to 18 hours a week for four years.
Of course, being both a part-time college student and a full-time actor has its challenges. As she told Parade in 2023, she was working on “finding that balance and being comfortable with sharing your time between work and school.”
However, she was determined to keep learning, especially since she had recently become a UNICEF ambassador. “This is something that I’m really interested in, and I felt that my role with UNICEF was far too big for me to just take on the chin,” she explained.