"They’re all great people and all having to grow up in very crazy circumstances," the actress said

By Aurelie Corinthios
August 25, 2020 03:37 PM
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Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images

As one of the young adult stars of Stranger Things, Natalia Dyer feels protective of her teenage castmates.

In a new interview with The Independent, Dyer, 25, opened up about the sexualization of young actors while discussing her new movie, Yes, God, Yes, which explores a teenager's sexual awakening.

When it comes to Stranger Things, most of the show's younger stars were catapulted from relative anonymity to stardom after the first season hit Netflix in 2016, and fans have watched them grow from children to teenagers.

"No one had any idea how successful the show would be," she said. "There was no preparation — there couldn't have been, even if we'd known. It was a surprising and overwhelming shock. Then it was like, 'OK, this is how it is now.'"

With intense press and fan attention, Dyer said, some troublesome side effects have emerged.

"I generally feel like, to me, it's oversexualizing them," she said. "I feel protective over the younger kids even though they're not kids anymore, they're teens. They're all great people and all having to grow up in very crazy circumstances."

"As a private person, I just feel like, leave people alone – unless you're talking about their work or what they want to talk about," she continued. "It's a very tricky and complex issue."

The issue, she added, is a "cultural" one: "There must be a bigger concept behind it as to why. Just let people be the people that they are, without any judgement."

From left: Sadie Sink, Noah Schnapp, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard and Caleb McLaughlin in Stranger Things
| Credit: Netflix

Dyer said she has found fame difficult to navigate herself, admitting she has a tendency to be "mouse-like and discreet."

"It's lovely to meet fans," she said. "But it's very like, 'Oh my gosh, I just want to go to the grocery store and get some milk. I don't want to take a photo everywhere I go.' At first, it was jarring. There are fans everywhere. It's a difficult thing to navigate."

"It's been like, five years since we started Stranger Things, and I've become more confident in how I handle situations," she continued. "At first, I had quite a few bouts of anxiety just as the show was coming out because there's this mentality of letting people down and not giving enough."

Dyer's costar Millie Bobby Brown, 16, has also addressed the challenges of public scrutiny. While celebrating her birthday in February, she posted an Instagram montage of negative headlines about her interspersed with footage of herself over the years.

"16 has felt like a long time coming," she wrote. "I feel like change needs to happen for not only this generation but the next. Our world needs kindness and support in order for us children to grow and succeed."

"The last few years haven't been easy, I'll admit that," she continued. "There are moments I get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me."

The Enola Holmes actress vowed to keep "spreading the message in order to make change."

"Let's focus on what needs changing," she said. "I hope this video informs you on the things that go on behind the scenes of the headlines and flashing lights. Don't worry I'll always find a way to smile."