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millie bobby brown actor stranger things hearing deaf

13-year-old 'Stranger Things' star bravely opens up about her mental health struggles and losing her hearing

Milly Bobby Brown is better known as Eleven from Stranger Things, who – despite a limited vocabulary and a weakness for Eggos – is one of the strongest, bravest and most badass "little girl" characters we've ever seen on screen. She's a loyal friend willing to sacrifice herself to fight demogorgons, mouth-breathers like Mr Brenner, and other detestable critters on the show.

In real life, Brown is just as brave. In a recent interview with Variety, the 13-year-old opened up about what it took to land the role on the smash Netflix series, and she spoke out about the health struggles she's had to deal with in the past.

Incredibly, Brown never trained professionally as an actor. It was at age 8 that she announced her determination to be on screen, and lucky for Brown, her parents were fully supportive. They upped and moved her and her siblings from Bournemouth in England to Florida's Orlando.

“It 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."

It was a bit of a struggle for the child actor at first, only landing a few guest roles in television shows here and there, and getting close but ultimately being rejected from the superhero film Logan. She said it was a struggle for her to push on at times, until she landed the career-changing role of Eleven.

“I felt at one point I couldn’t do it [anymore], but then I got this and everything changed,” she revealed. Now, “acting is like breathing to me.”

What's even more astounding is the fact that Brown is deaf in one ear, meaning she can't fully hear herself speak or perform on camera. The 13-year-old was born with partial loss of hearing which eventually faded completely on one side.

millie bobby brown actor stranger things hearing deaf Credit: Getty

But despite it all, it didn't stop her from going after her dreams of singing and acting: "I just started to sing, and if I sound bad I don’t care because I’m just doing what I love."

"You don’t have to be good at singing. You don’t have to be good at dancing or acting. If you like to do it, if you genuinely enjoy doing it, then do it. No one should stop you."

Turns out she's actually not bad at slinging a tune, as everyone saw on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago when Brown picked up a mic (and the tiniest little glasses that ever existed) and flawlessly rapped a recap of everything that happened in the first season of Stranger Things.

What I would do to have Millie Bobby Brown hurl Eggos at me too...

While Stranger Things certainly set her up for a promising career – with her now able to claim several industry awards (including an Emmy nomination) to her name, a key role in the upcoming Godzilla franchise, plus an enormous fanbase that surged from 25 to a cool 7.8 million on Instagram – people are wary that she'll come under the "curse of child stardom".

“Everyone from Tennessee Williams to Sarah Paulson has warned of the perils of early success,” says David Harbour, who plays Eleven's father-figure in season two. “There’s a piece of me that’s very protective of her and feels that we should all let her be brave and brilliant and turn our eyes away and not give her so much attention.”

Brown lives with her parents, who are highly supportive of their daughter in Atlanta, away from the showbiz atmosphere and the fast pace of Hollywood. Plus, it seems like she's got a pretty good attitude towards things.

 “To live in the moment and to make mistakes is a big part of being a person. I’m still just a kid. I’m 13, and making mistakes is OK.” 

Keep crushing it, Millie.