Ellen Page: Her Evolution From Young Oscar Nominee to Gay Rights Advocate
The 30-year-old actress has gone from critical darling and early Academy Award nominee to a leading gay rights activist over the last decade
Ten years after her breakthrough role in Juno, Ellen Page has maintained a steady presence in the spotlight.
The 30-year-old actress has gone from critical darling and early Academy Award nominee to a leading gay rights activist over the last decade, surprising the world with her bravery and poise when she decided to come out as gay.
Now starring in a remake of the ’80s cult classic Flatliners, Page has also kept up with a steady stream of movies that showcase the different facets of her talent. Read on for more about her evolution over the years.
Beginnings and Oscar Nomination
The Canadian actress first got her start on television in 1997 when she was just 10 years old, starring in the TV movie Pit Pony. The movie went on to become a series and led Page to star in more small Canadian films. In 2006, Page made her major movie debut in X-Men: The Last Stand as the superhero Kitty Pride.
Page in Juno
10 years after her TV debut, the actress starred in the 2007 critically acclaimed hit Juno opposite Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner and Allison Janney. The role of the pregnant teen who decides to give her baby up for adoption put her name on the map and earned her multiple best actress nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In 2014, Page came out as gay at a Human Rights Campaign event in a rousing speech that earned her a standing ovation. The actress said she was ready to come out in hopes that her experience would help other people struggling with their sexuality.
“I’m here today because I am gay and because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time,” Page said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain.”
The actress later revealed that her performance in the movie Freeheld — a heart-wrenching tale about two women who push gay rights forward when one of them dies of cancer — had partly inspired her to be honest with the world about her sexuality.
“I think the film affected me personally because Stacie and Laurel are incredibly inspiring people,” she told PEOPLE at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. “When you’re telling a story about people who did something extremely courageous and brave — particularly in a time of unimaginable tragedy and difficulty — it’s hard to do that and remain closeted.”
But before coming out, Page admitted that she was depressed in a 2015 interview with Time as she struggled with the emotional weight of hiding who she was. That all changed after her speech.
“The moment I came out, I felt every cell in my body transform. I was happier than I ever could have imagined. You feel excited about life, and motivated and inspired. You want to do more. You want to go on adventures,” she said.
Page’s emotionally honest speech has since set her on a path of continued activism. Pointing out the issued LGBT youths face was important to her when making her speech.
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“For me, it was a great opportunity to be honest, to share certain elements of the pain that I went through,” she told American Way. “The reality is, there are very few young people out as actors, so I was hoping to speak to a lot of the issues so it wouldn’t just seem like, ‘Hey, look, I’m gay.’”
Since then, Page has become a strong gay right advocate and even confronted then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz in Iowa during the election. She’s also been vocal about speaking out in support of creating more opportunities for gay actors.
“My life now is overwhelming and I’m glad to be in a position where I can support my community and also help show that you can still play all kinds of roles after you are out,” she told Diva. “Things are changing fast and the more people who come out will ultimately help put an end to the idea that coming out destroys your career. We have to make that happen.”