With Stranger Things’ finale in 2021, here’s a deep dive into Millie Bobby Brown’s mass appeal as a youth icon.
As Stranger Things came to a close this year, it became evident that the Netflix series had given birth to a Northern star. Steadfast and determined in her approach, breakout talent Millie Bobby Brown was everything that was sacred about the world of acting. Through her sincere and unhindered portrayal of the off-centre Eleven in the series, Brown proved that she is here to stay, despite the online trolling and her quirky ticks.
An actress of only 17, Brown has carved a space for her within the competitive and strenuous environment that is Hollywood. Her filmography boasts of an interesting bunch that reflects a tendency to purposefully gravitate towards pushing the narrative into spaces that challenge conventional storytelling.
From tentpole projects like Godzilla vs Kong, where Brown plays Madison Russell to groundbreaking Sherlock corollaries like Enola Holmes (where she plays the sleuth’s sister-cum-detective Enola), Brown’s name has evoked reliability in the industry.
The teenager’s ability to maintain her allure among young audience members is not one-fold. She has managed to smash through the power-broking realms of showbusiness, making her a phenomenon rather than just an infatuation phase for her mass followers.
The actress, who spent most of her early years in Dorset and Florida, already has film producer credits to her name and was the youngest entry into Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People. She is also the youngest to get on-board to work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. Brown’s brand is only on the rise now, with multiple screen projects, the controversial public faux pas, chat show appearances, make-up brands and deep fake memes.
Brown’s English background stays strong despite most of her young years in the US. Bearing a largely British accent, Brown’s tryst with the showbiz began considerably early and even before she reached the 10-year mark she had made appearances in the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy and ABC sitcom Modern Family.
Brown’s USP seems to lie in her charms. Outspoken and perpetually hovering in the at-risk zone because of it, Brown has courted her fair share of controversies under the public eye. Her not-so-elegant post about a “flat earther” caused an internet flurry as people lashed out at her for being this dense. This was promptly followed by what many considered an improprietous dalliance with older music icon Drake. Her stint about faking application of her make-up for a promotional of her vegan make-up brand Florence by Mills. But this move did not seem to have adversely affected the campaign since the family announced their majority stake ownership even before Christmas that year.
Despite having a contentious relationship with the media around, Brown has risen to become a beacon of positivity. In fact, this is evident in the way she chose to portray the character of Enola Holmes. Netflix’s adaptation of the adventures of Sherlock’s sister feels like an ode to humanity. Armed with empathy and a heart filled with love, Enola Holmes was a thematic contradiction of her elder brother, touted the most-famous sleuth of his generation.
While Sherlock believed in the minute dissection of each fact inside his “mind palace” to reach a well-informed conclusion, Enola bases her incisive skills on a blend of gut and analysis, almost like a perfect mix of Poirot and Marple.
Enola (which is essentially an anagram of ‘alone’) is all about the lack of method. Her clumsiness adds to her dishevelled charm. Having been brought up by her widowed mother (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola is self-sufficient and self-preservatory. The bond that she shares with her mother is precious beyond belief. It is also the sole guiding force that bolsters her towards “following the breadcrumbs” and achieving what her mother had envisioned for her all along. To a large extent then, Brown’s personal innocence shone through the screen and translated into something heartwarming. Brown injected in Enola’s role, a sheer sincerity that more than compensated for her lack of Sherlock’s suave precision. Much like her off-screen personality, Brown’s Enola was above all, human (read: humane).
Millie Bobbie Brown’s unparalleled appeal as a child artiste and more importantly, as a voice of the youth is undeniable. The actress has successfully carved a niche for herself to headline strong female roles onscreen that speak to her skills not only as an artiste but also as a public figure.