Millie Bobby Brown: ‘I was so afraid to be a strong woman in a relationship’

Millie Bobby Brown is a lot. She’s 19 years old, she’s been super-famous for half of her young life, and she’s engaged to Jon Bon Jovi’s son. She’s also an author, an actress, a producer, a soon-to-be screenwriter and on and on. It’s a lot, and this kind of frenetic energy makes me want to take a nap! No, I actually like MBB and I don’t blame her for striking while the iron is hot and figuring out a way to do things on her terms. There’s a boldness there which I appreciate and respect, even if I think she would find it beneficial to go to college for a few years. MBB is currently promoting Nineteen Steps, her novel which is sort of based on her grandmother and London during WWII. She’s also Glamour’s Global Woman of the Year. Some highlights from a somewhat overwrought cover story:

How she starts her day: “I’m somebody who wakes up, drinks a kombucha, pets my donkey, you know?”

Being criticized for talking too much when she was a kid: “We’re kids—we talk over each other. I was just penalized for overtalking and oversharing and being too loud.” She was accused of, as she recalls it, “trying to steal the thunder” of her castmates. Grown adults called her “an idiot,” “stupid,” and “a brat.” “It’s hard to hear that at 13. You’re like, ‘I don’t want to ever talk again. I don’t want to be the loud person.’ In interviews I couldn’t help but think of all the comments. So I just remembered to stay silent and speak when I was spoken to, even though I was dying to join in. I just felt it wasn’t my turn.”

She tries to look out for other child actors: “You cannot speak on children that are underage. I mean, our brains physically have not grown yet. To diminish and practically stunt someone’s growth mentally, strip them down, tell them, ‘Hey, listen, you don’t look that great. Why are you wearing that? How dare you think you can wear that? How dare you say that?’”

She’s put up gates: “Nobody’s allowed in. Nobody can say sh-t. This is my life, and the only people that are allowed are the people that I open the gate for. Other than that, everybody’s out. And yes, it’s sad. There are trust issues. And yes, I have issues with having friends. I don’t have a lot of friends. Yes, I block out a lot of people. I’m a reserved person, socially. I will never let that gate open again. Because everyone’s crossed it.”

Falling for Jake Bongiovi: “I think I was so afraid to be a strong woman in a relationship,” Brown says of her past relationships. Being attractive to men, she thought, meant not taking up too much space. “When I met Jake. I just felt I could be loud. He embraced that and encouraged that. And I fell in love with myself while being with him.”

She has always known she wants children. “I wanted to be the woman that my mom is to me and I wanted to be the woman that my grandmother was to me. So that was never my, like, intention, to be a wife. But after meeting Jake and seeing, ‘Oh, I don’t have to be this stereotypical wife for him. He doesn’t want me to be that either. He wants me to go and do my thing and live my life, and he will hold my hand in the process of that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I do want this.’”

Her feminist awakening: She credits her feminist awakening to a visit to a psychic, who informed her that she was, in fact, a feminist. Brown went home and googled “How do I know if I’m a feminist?” After reading articles and books, she “really grasped the idea of feminism and what it means to me,” she says. “Ultimately it’s about opportunity.”

[From Glamour]

She also talks about Jake’s family and how she and Jake both come from happy families with long marriages, and I genuinely winced because she just jinxed herself so hard. But I generally feel like she’ll survive whatever happens. Jake sounds like a nice guy and it sounds like a healthy relationship (for her age). She thinks that being married will make her more settled, that she’ll have a real home and that this is, finally, the answer. And that’s a lot to put on a marriage at 19 years old! But again, she’s a survivor and she’ll figure that out in real time.

Covers courtesy of Glamour.

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36 Responses to “Millie Bobby Brown: ‘I was so afraid to be a strong woman in a relationship’”

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  1. Kimber says:

    Can we please stop with the J-LO open mouth pose??? Becoming a pet peeve. Ok- off to get coffee

    • SarahLee says:

      Was coming to the comments to say the same! I look at those photos and I think of Mary Poppins: “Close your mouth, Millie. We are NOT a codfish!”

    • manda says:

      I was feeling kind of b!tchy for noticing that, too, so I’m glad I’m not alone. Meanwhile, when I try to do an open mouth sexy pose, I really look dumb. So, hats off to people that can make it work!

    • rawiya says:

      I agree. It’s not just with MBB. There’s a post about TS and she’s got the same open-mouth pose, too. We moved on from that duck-face pose; hopefully we’ll move on from this one soon.

    • Olivia says:

      Insider tip: photographers TELL YOU to part your lips. They’re the images most often chosen by publishers. It adds interest and a sense of movement to the image as opposed to ‘closed-mouth and straight to camera’ photos that automatically look rigid and staged. Plus, there’s only a certain amount of ‘closed-mouth and straight to camera’ images you can use in one magazine spread. Also, ‘closed-mouth’ is not flattering on most people – just look at old photos where smiling wasn’t popular yet – everyone seems old and angry! So now, people either give a toothy smile, part lips, do duck face or aren’t looking at camera at all. The only time publishers choose ‘closed-mouth and straight to camera’ is to convey gravitas, coldness, or controversy – think Mona Lisa, Elizabeth Holmes, Steve Jobs and Meghan Markle’s recent CUT cover.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was married at 19. I come from an abusive background and I would edit everything I said and did to stay safe. I met my now husband in high school and he let me be who I wanted to be and say what I wanted. I never had to edit. I understand what she is saying about being able to be loud with Jake. Yes she is young but it is easier to fall for someone who will let you be who you want to be and say what you want so I think she will be fine. I have been married 42 years but we have been together 46 years. I wish her the best!!!

    • Robert Phillips says:

      I hope they work out also. But I don’t see the reason to rush into marriage. Like she said. Kids brains haven’t fully formed yet. Even at 19. What is wrong with being engaged for a few years. And she keeps saying he lets her be her. But how does she know who she is yet? She needs to live on her own for a little while to see what type of person she actually is. Her fiance also. I’m not saying they should break up. But who someone is at 19 is a lot different than who someone is at 35.

      • Boxy Lady says:

        I have never thought that a child actor wanting to get married young is all that weird. Most people want to work and establish their career before they get married and settle down. She may be only 19 but she’s been working for 10 years already. And she’s still getting work. Marriage would be a logical next step in the timeline of life for anyone else who had that amount of career experience.

    • ML says:

      Anonymous, Congratulations at being able to leave your dysfunctional family and find your life partner so young! I’m smiling at your story.

      • Anonymous says:

        ML. Not sure why it came up under anonymous because I am on here a lot by my real name but ok anonymous it will be for this comment. Maybe I didn’t check the save me box. Thank you. I know getting married young in this day and age isn’t so popular but it can work. I hope it works for her.

    • North of Boston says:

      A friend of mine was talking about her relationship the other day and she said she knew her husband was a good person for her because he totally liked her just being herself, she didn’t have to be on guard.

      She tells a funny story of their first date – she’d had a series of dates with guys who’d policed her behavior in some way, including, coincidentally, all mansplaining/lecturing/scolding her about salt intake when she asked them to pass the salt at dinner on one of their early dates.

      On her first date with her husband, when she asked him to pass the salt, he cheerfully said “sure! Here you go! Just please pass it back to me when you’re done”. She was like “that’s it’! This is my guy!” And he is still nearly 20 years later. They’re very happy together. I’ve never seen her be more herself than she is with him.

      • Ama1977 says:

        That’s so funny! I knew my husband was “the one”’pretty early on, but something that cemented it for me was when we were having burgers and I was dipping my fries in mayo instead of ketchup. Instead of commenting that it was gross (as many people had previously) he said, “that looks good!” and tried it, too. We’re also more than 20 years in, celebrating our 19th anniversary in April!

        I wish her only good things. I don’t like the pressure her parents put on her to be a successful child star, and I suspect that as she gets older, she’ll have some complicated feelings that she’s not acknowledging now. I hope that she and Jake are good to and for each other. He does come from a strong, loving family so that’s a big plus for him.

  3. Digital Unicorn says:

    “She thinks that being married will make her more settled, that she’ll have a real home and that this is, finally, the answer.”

    I tend to agree with this – this also gives insight into her own family life and the pressures/dysfunction that was placed on her from a young age. She never really got the chance to have a proper childhood with a normal family dynamic. Like Britney, she’s her family cash cow and like Britney thinks a marriage of her own is her way out of that control her family/parents have over her.

    • Thinking says:

      If she wants out of the control of her family, I sort of think picking Jon Bon Jovi’s son is a wise choice ha ha. He has his family’s money so hopefully he’ll not need to be dependent on her. Better than the choices Britney made.

      I’m glad he lets her be her own person. The 21 year olds (or however old he is) I remember were kind of mean. Maybe Gen Z is kinder ha ha.

      She never speaks ill of her own family but I think the criticism she’s faced on social media and in other media outlets is her family’s fault. If they let the kid have a private life, she wouldn’t face this kind of stuff.

  4. The Old Chick says:

    No disrespect to her.. I started working at 11. She’s achieved a lot. But she’s super famous /lauded. I agree university might help her take stock and slow down. Slowing down isn’t the end at her level of fame. I think she was in enola Holmes? They were fun. That’s all I know her from though.

  5. lisa says:

    so many kid stars need that starter marriage to get out from under the parents and get the parents out of their money since Mary Astor and prob before that. I feel for kids (shes technically an adult but really 19 is a kid) like her and wish her the best.

  6. duchess of hazard says:

    Does she still support her family? She’s hit a lot of landmarks and milestones a lot earlier than other people would have done by her age.

  7. Elle says:

    I’m someone who married young when I met the first person i didn’t have to “edit” myself around, and we’re still together 17 years later. So I never want to judge young marriages. Of course I do anyway. MBB talks with such wizened cynicism like she’s ten million years older, and that scares me in a 19yo. She reminds me of a Drew Barrymore “aged WAY too young” child star without any of Barrymore’s smirking mischief. I hope she’s okay and everything works out and she gets the safety she needs to relax, heal, etc.

  8. Isa says:

    She seems like a nice person. And yea, reading this article makes me feel my age. I got married at 19 and back then you couldn’t tell me sh!t. It’s worked out, but looking back I think that it’s insane I got married so young. 😅

  9. ML says:

    I feel like parts of this article are a lot! However, MBB says something really important and that is to stop talking about child actors and criticize them when they are literally children.

  10. Mel says:

    I’m just going to say it, they’re both to young to get married. She doesn’t even know who she is yet. This should be the time for her to live on her own, maybe go to school , experience living on her own and what makes her happy. Get out from under her parents thumb. He should have the opportunity to do the same. They seem like nice kids but they’re just too young.

  11. Amy says:

    Besides the vacuous open mouth pose they have her styled to look like a 45 year old divorcee heading out to a girls weekend in Vegas after getting her finalization. Why? Just be 19. You only get to for 1 year…

    • Kebbie says:

      Isn’t thinking you’re a fully formed adult at 19 the typical experience of being 19? Not knowing just how young and inexperienced you are. I feel like most 19 year olds are 45 going on 15 lol

      • Kreama says:

        Right?! I’m so glad no one gave me a platform to put my 19 year old views of the world and myself on blast.

        And none of that is to be critical of MBB. I wish for her sake she had been allowed to to grow up in anonymity and privacy. I personally don’t think fame/success/money is ever worth the price of being a child star. Before I had kids I hoped my future children would be normal average kids that had interests to pursue and enjoy but weren’t so gifted or driven that they couldn’t embrace their childhood.

    • Mango says:

      @Amy Can you give an example of someone young today who dresses like your idea of a nineteen year old? I am just curious. Of course it helps if the photo shoot is styled by someone very young but I think these things rarely are.

  12. Kebbie says:

    I hope it works out for them. They seem to have a healthy and supportive relationship. Young marriages can work, but theirs will have a lot of stresses and pressures that most don’t with her being an actor. Hopefully him being fame-adjacent already and seeing his parents go through life in the public eye helps. She seems well adjusted for a child star.

  13. Normades says:

    The Bonjovi’s are supposedly a really nice family so she probably appreciates the stability. She has supported her entire family for years. They all work for her. It’s a really unhealthy dynamic for any kid.

    Also side eying her parents who let her 25 year old boyfriend sleep over when she was under age. He was a total sleaze ball who publicly slut shamed her. I’m sure he’s one of the dudes she’s referencing.

  14. Kirsten says:

    I hope it works for them, and she has worked hard and accomplished a lot, but she also seems a bit young and naive, even for a 19 year old.

  15. Elo says:

    I think when you know you know. Bon Jovi and his wife have been together forever and they seem like really nice people so I can only assume Jake is too. I wish them all the luck. She will be a beautiful bride.

    • mika says:

      You dont know much at 19. Either they grow together or they break up. Marriage feels like an ending because culture and religion writes it that way, but peice of paper isn’t going to keep kids from growing and changing.

  16. Kingston says:

    I wasn’t gonna comment on this post because, as many upthread hv pointed out, MBB is 19 yrs old……..still very young & inexperienced. The human brain doesn’t stop growing until age 25. And she hasn’t had the benefit of a college education/experience.
    So…….she has lots to learn.

    So imma forgive her lack of knowledge about feminism…..what it means at its core. And the dangerous belief she has about it, that “ultimately, it means opportunity.”

    Thats what she says her research so far on the topic has taught her. I guess she has a lot more reading & listening & learning to do on the topic.

    But she can start with this premise: that for a Cliff Notes-understanding of feminism and who is a feminist, etc. one can start with an understanding of the concepts of fairness; equal justice; and equal rights.

    It is ignorance, poverty, selfishness and mental slavery. – of both men and women. – that allow injustice and inequality anywhere, to flourish for both men and women.

    Consider the mighty USA. – still a weathervane for the world, despite any beliefs to the contrary – where theyre hvng to re-litigate and fight AGAIN for already hard-won civil rights and liberties from the 60s and beyond, as injustice, inequality & unfairness seem to be on the rise. Nevermind those societies where women are culturally and legally 2nd class citizens; and where men are deprived of realizing true self-actualization.

    For such women (and men) marrying into wealth wd provide a great opportunity, sure. To do what, tho? Being wealthy and therefore hvng “opportunity” doesn’t automatically mean one becomes a feminist – i:e an activist for equal rights, justice and equality (including equal opportunity) for all.

    So……back to the books you go, MBB.

  17. J.ferber says:

    I hope she’s not expecting this or any marriage to “save” or free her from her parents. Poor Joan Crawford, who was abused in childhood and made to work at a laundry to support her mother and brother while she was a young teen of about 14 never got rid of her viper family and supported them their whole lives. Her mother even changed her name to Crawford, Joan’s made-up Hollywood name to cling tighter. And Joan was married four times. I hope this won’t be the case for BMB. No one deserves that.

  18. Jen says:

    I saw her novel in a local store and did a double take. I looked it up when I got home and it turns out the novel is ghostwritten. I know that memoirs are often ghostwritten, as are novels in series (eg Babysitters Club) but I’ve never heard of a stand-alone fiction novel being ghostwritten, seems wrong to me. So yeah. She is not an author.

  19. Eowyn says:

    Agree with the Las Vegas commentator, that green dress and styling is total cougar. (Gen Xer making this comment).
    This young woman has been totally exploited by her family, her thinking and decisions make sense to her in her personal context.
    It’s normal to seek all the trappings of adulthood on an accelerated timeline when you were never allowed a normal childhood.
    I hope the Bongiovi boy and his family is good to her.

  20. Aidee Kay says:

    Jon Bon Jovi has (by all appearances) a great marriage to his high school sweetheart, but iirc they didn’t get married till they were well into their 20s. I hope MBB and her fiance have a long engagement. No need to rush. Living together for 5 years would probably do them some good. That said, as others have posted, some young marriages thrive. I know one couple who got married as h.s. juniors and they are doing great.

  21. Grant says:

    She looks gorgeous. I love Stranger Things and I want good things for her. Feminism isn’t a particularly complicated concept to grasp, it’s just been obfuscated by people who want to keep their constituents uninformed, scared, and stupid. We binged Enola Holmes 1 and 2 over the weekend, and she was a GD delight in both films!