Wearing a bright, color-blocked hoodie with dinosaur spikes running down the sleeves and her hair tied back in a loose bun, Millie Bobby Brown pulls out her phone to show me a sneak peek of her Who What Wear cover shoot. “This is my favorite look,” she tells me of the image, in which she is perched on a low-slung tree branch in an ethereal Brock Collection dress and lace-up Ariat boots. This particular shoot is a special one for the young star, who enlisted the help of her older brother, Charlie, to photograph it. The two settled on the beautiful grounds just outside their family home in Atlanta, Georgia, to serve as the backdrop. For Brown, work and play are often a family affair. In the span of our 30-minute Zoom interview, she was flanked by her brother and their rambunctious golden retriever pup Leo (one of the household’s six dogs), while her best friend Gianna casually popped in and out of the room. It’s controlled chaos, but I get the sense she likes it this way.
Since bursting into our homes at the mere age of 10 with her electric performance as Eleven in the Netflix series Stranger Things, Brown has been “go, go, go,” juggling rapid fame with the trials and tribulations of adolescence and a bustling Hollywood career—all while winning us over with her cheerful personality and fashion proclivities. (A personal favorite of mine is the custom pink ruffled Rodarte number she wore to the ST season-three premiere.) Hyperspeed is a comfortable pace for the now 16-year-old, and with no plans of slowing down anytime soon, she is ready to take on more.
Photo:Charlie Brown; STYLING: Brock Collection dress; Cartier necklace; Ariat Capriole Tall Riding Boots ($500)
This month, Brown is teaming with Netflix to bring audiences Enola Holmes, a project that sees her both in front of the camera in the titular role and behind the scenes serving as one of the film’s producers, a career first for the star. “I wanted to be a part of the casting process, I wanted to be a part of the writing process, and I definitely wanted to be a part of the layout of the whole production,” she says of some of the new responsibilities she took on. You could say Enola Holmes is Brown’s baby, in a way. She was struck by the character, the precocious younger sister of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, when reading the Nancy Springer book series at the age of 13. “When I was younger and lived in London, I felt as though I could never connect with a lead British female. When I read this book, I genuinely felt like I had found someone just like me. My sister and I both fell in love with Enola and everything about her. We thought, ‘This needs to be seen.’” So Brown, with a strong vision and understanding of what young audiences want, went to Legendary Entertainment and made it happen. The project would later find its perfect home with Netflix.
With all the makings of an entertaining mystery film—adventure, suspense, misdirection—and the welcome addition of female empowerment, Enola Holmes is a fantastic watch. Brown shines as Holmes and is almost unrecognizable with her long, wavy hair and fitted-bodice dresses, a far cry from Eleven’s ’80s tomboy look. When I ask how she and Holmes might be similar, she laughs and tells me they both are quite nosy—a product, she goes on to say, of always wanting to be in the know and wearing her heart on her sleeve. She also says they are both unapologetically authentic. “We are only ourselves for the rest of our lives, so I just accept the fact that I am who I am and don’t need anyone to rely on.”
Photo:Charlie Brown; STYLING: Nicole Shante jacket; Gigi Burris headband; Khaite shorts and boots
Brown may have found independence at a young age, but her close-knit family continues to be her North Star. “[My family] are my best friends,” she says. “Those are the people I talk to every day, that I see every day, and who I love collaborating with because they know me and will be honest with me.” Some of Brown’s most gratifying work has been in partnership with her siblings. She hints at an exciting project she and her brother have in the works, though is mum on any details. She and her sister, Paige, are currently developing and producing a film called A Time Lost, which they hold close to their hearts after writing the script based on a dear friend’s battle with cancer. “We always said her story was so special,” Brown shares. “She was a warrior in so many ways. It’s something that touches everyone and happens in so many families, so I feel [it’s a story] that could maybe help people grieving or speak to people who just want to hear stories that are real and genuine.”
When it came down to who would produce the story with the two sisters, there was only one answer: Netflix. “I knew I wanted to go to Netflix because I knew my story would be told, and in the right way,” Brown says. The mega streamer has been a supporter of her career since the beginning, with a key component of their relationship being Netflix’s respect for her not only as a young person but also as a young woman. The people she works with there encourage her to voice her opinions and write her own stories because they know as well as any of us that Brown is the future of Hollywood.
The entertainment industry is slowly but surely taking steps toward a more inclusive future, inviting more BIPOC, female, and young voices to have a seat at the table. Major networks and streamers are signing deals with young talent to develop original content (most recently, ABC Studios with Yara Shahidi and Hulu with Joey King). Brown is one of the youngest executive producers alongside Marsai Martin. With these fresh voices at the forefront come a fresh perspective and new coming-of-age stories reaching a large corner of the market looking to see themselves represented on screen.
Photo:Charlie Brown; STYLING: Chanel top, skirt, and bracelet; Chrome Hearts hat and gloves; Ariat Capriole Tall Riding Boots ($500)
“We are so used to a male-dominated industry, and so having women involved, young women, young people involved, I think we can all work together equally. I believe [that] with equality in this industry, we can make beautiful art,” says Brown. “We can do what we all want to do, which is this craft, and we can do it together. It’s important to have this seat at the table, to be heard, because not only are we young, but we [also] have a lot to say, and we have stories that want to be told. If that’s respected, looked at, and taken seriously, we can do so many things. With Enola, I was producing and also starred in it, and there were men involved in the production of things and plenty of women involved in the production of things. It was such a great collaborative effort and a great example of what Hollywood can look like.”
Photo:Charlie Brown; STYLING: Khaite top, shorts, and boots
But Brown isn’t just aiming to make Hollywood a better place—she’s also working toward social change in other spaces. Influence is something Brown has in spades. She is the youngest person to be featured on the Time 100 list of the World’s Most Influential People, and her Instagram account alone reaches over 34 million users worldwide. Understanding the weight of her platform, Brown uses it to speak to causes close to her heart. For instance, she partnered with UNICEF to ensure young people across the globe have access to education. This is an important step, she believes, in giving today’s adolescents an impactful voice for the future. She’s also dedicated to making social media a safer place. “I personally have suffered greatly from cyberbullying,” she tells me, recalling one instance last year when fans were “greatly affected” by her decision to wear a Louis Vuitton coatdress and trousers. “I think [social media] is a place of harassment and negativity. When people go on to my Instagram page, I want them to see someone who is real, who is authentically being themselves, and who is positive and happy.”
Being authentically herself—whether fumbling through an Addison Rae TikTok dance (who else can relate?) or seamlessly toggling between fancy frocks and sleek, tailored moments on the red carpet—is something Brown has mastered over time. She is self-assured beyond her years and the kind of person we need in the driver’s seat for the next generation.
Photo:Charlie Brown; STYLING: Louis Vuitton dress; Chrome Hearts gloves; Ariat Capriole Tall Riding Boots ($500)
Before our Zoom chat comes to end, I ask Brown one final question about her predictions for the future of Hollywood and where she sees the industry going. A big smile appears on her face as she says, “I hope in a few years, we get to a point where we all just genuinely want to work together, and that comes with a lot of people listening. So as long as that is happening, hopefully, we will be in good shape.” With Brown starting to call the shots, I think we’re well on our way.
Enola Holmes premieres on Netflix September 23.