Brie Larson: How Her Social Anxiety Shaped Her Career, Instagram Feed, And More

Brie Larson is one of the most successful actresses around with billion-dollar franchises, awards, and millions of Instagram followers.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

brie larson

Brie Larson is an Academy Award-winning actress. On top of that, she has a number of big characters she’s portrayed and a number of big movies she has starred in over the years. In her lead-up to doing these big things, she’s also been an accomplished singer and, yes, even a DJ. Now, she even has an incredibly active Instagram account and has started a YouTube channel as well. Yet still, through all her accomplishments, there is a certain Fandom that continues to have a problem accepting her. What gives?

BRIE LARSON’S EARLY LIFE

Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers was born in Sacramento, California to parents who ran a practice together as homeopathic chiropractors. Throughout most of her school-aged years, Brie was home-schooled. This could be one of the reasons Brie has always described herself as shy with social anxiety. As a child, she found her love for movies.

“I’ve just made movies my whole life,” Larson explained to IndieWire. “Every summer, I would write and direct a film that I would direct my cousins in. It mostly took place in the garage, and I would just hang up different sheets and use our storage containers as different heights for things. I had a disco ball that I put outside the garage door, and when I turned it on, it meant we were rolling.”

Brie’s parent’s divorced when she was seven, prompting her, her sister, and her mother to relocate to Los Angeles and a small apartment in Burbank near the movie studio lots. As she was dead set on making movies her career, she knew her last name wouldn’t work in Hollywood. So, she took the name from an American Girl doll, Kirsten Larson, that she got as a gift. From there, Brie Larson was born.

BRIE LARSON’S EARLY CAREER

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Brie Larson got her first shot at the age of nine on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She was seen on the show in a parody Barbie commercial called Malibu Mudslide Barbie. This led Larson to the TV series To Have & to Hold where she grabbed two episodes. For the next few years, Larson grabbed roles in a number of TV series such as Touched by an Angel, Popular, Then Came You, and the TV movie, Schimmel.

One of Larson’s bigger early career breaks came when she got the role of Emily Stewart on the TV series Raising Dad. Bob Saget had the lead role in the sitcom that saw Larson also star opposite Kat Dennings and Jerry Adler. The series lasted only one season, but it put 22 episodes under her belt. That one season of Raising Dad got her another TV movie, Right on Track, but also got a couple of feature films. The first one was 13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner, then she was seen in Sleepover.

BRIE LARSON – THE SINGING DJ

Brie Larson

As Brie Larson was moving through her early career, she also developed an interest in music. She learned to play guitar and had a music executive encourage her to start writing her own songs, which she did. She loved it so much that she began to self-record and then upload her material to her own website. In 2003, Larson got passed over for the role of Wendy Darling in the feature Peter Pan, so she wrote a song, “Invisible Girl”, about it. Her song actually got some airplay and shortly after that, Brie signed a record deal with Casablanca Records. At the time of her signing, it was only she and Lindsay Lohan at the label.

In 2005, Larson released her one and only album, Finally Out of P.E. It got some play and was enough to get Larson on tour with Jesse McCartney. She opened for his Beautiful Soul tour but unfortunately for Larson, it wasn’t enough to get album sales. Her music career was very short-lived.

Larson then turned into the “struggling actor,” going to auditions, losing parts, going to more auditions, and losing more parts. She did grabs some roles along the way, but in between these gigs, Brie Larson turned into a DJ to help pay the bills. “I used to DJ. It was the ‘real’ job that floated me while I auditioned for the movies I never got,” she said via Glamour. “Even during the filming of Short Term 12 I spun records at magazine parties and hotel bars on weekends because I couldn’t survive off of SAG minimum.”

Larson realizes she wouldn’t be who she is or where she is now in her career if she didn’t work hard and stick it out. “I was hustling, but I got people dancing and hung with my other DJ friends. I’m grateful for where I am now but want to give a toast to the life I lived before. To all the dreamers with day jobs, I see you, don’t give up. There is beauty in your journey.”

THAT OSCAR

The road to Oscar is paved with many a failure. Brie Larson saw many failed auditions, but it never stopped her. She continued to hustle, grabbing whatever part she could along the way. There was Hoot, Remember the Daze, Just Peck, and Tanner Hall. She nailed an episode of Ghost Whisperer and The Burg. She found another TV series, United States of Tara, that thankfully lasted longer than one season (3 seasons). Then, in 2010, came Scott Pilgrim vs the World and things began to look up for Brie. She was in the features Rampart, Treatment, 21 Jump Street, The Spectacular Now, Don Jon, The Gambler, and Trainwreck before finding her way to Room.

Room tells the story of a young mother, aptly named Ma, who is held in captivity and bears a child of rape. To prepare herself for the grueling shoot in a 10 ft x 10 ft shed, Larson spent a month isolated in her apartment. She spoke with specialists on sexual abuse and also did her research on the lack of nutrition a body would not get after being locked in a shed for such a long time. To achieve this look, Larson would stay away from sunlight, completely changed her diet, and she would also exercise extensively to lose weight. It all worked because it added up to a surprising Academy Award win for Larson.

BRIE LARSON’S A UNICORN

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The Unicorn Store was Brie Larson’s feature film directorial debut. She did direct two shorts for Sundance (The Arm) and SXSW (Weighting). “Doing shorts was part of my way of taking control back from waiting around to get the next job,” she said. “Anything that I could do to make me feel like I had a life outside of acting, so that when I didn’t get jobs, it didn’t feel like my whole world was over. It just felt like one piece was kind of ending.”

In taking the director’s chair for Unicorn Store, Larson actually auditioned to star in the film five years prior. Miguel Arteta was set to direct the film that Larson didn’t get. The role instead went to Rebel Wilson. For one reason or another, the production never got off the ground though, so the script sat. It took Larson grabbing the Oscar for The Room, but she was then offered the role as well as a shot at directing the film. “I always felt like I was supposed to tell that story,” she said.

Larson worked on the script with screenwriter Samantha McIntyre for a year, fleshing out the story and characters and getting the script fully ready to take out to potential producing partners. She was fully prepared for the long haul, having been in the business since a child and understanding how long and difficult the process can be to get a film made. “I thought, ‘well, we’ll put it out there, it could be years before I actually end up doing it and start wrapping my head around this,’” she recalled. To Larson’s surprise, the film sold a mere 24 hours later.

Although Larson has been around for a while and has seen virtually everything Hollywood has to offer, being on the directing side of the ledger allowed her to see the business in a different light. Even though she got lucky, “I do understand why we don’t have a ton of new voices,” she said. “Because it’s really hard for new voices to get through this process, getting a financier, getting the right cast, getting the right team, selling it, getting it into a festival. It’s a very difficult process. It’s very hard on you mentally.”

The experience, as a whole, did not dampen Larson’s desire to direct more projects in the future. She loves the control of sitting in the director’s chair, but also realized that as a first-time director, gaining trust no matter who you are can be easier said than done. She is, after all, an actor first. “The hardest part for me was wondering if people would trust me to do this,” Larson said. “And realizing how much as an actor, it’s an act of trust to sign on to any film.”

One of the movie’s stars, Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down) sang Larson’s praises from the very first time he met Larson via his Skype interview. “I was a little bit nervous about how it would go,” Athie admitted to IndieWire. “She had just won an Oscar! And she was so cool. Immediately, I was like, ‘Oh, this is one of my people.’ We had a conversation. I feel like we went through the gamut, we talked about stereotypes and the industry, hope, and humanity. We talked for like 45 minutes.” It must have been a very impressive 45 minutes because Athie ended up getting the role of Virgil.

As for the film, Larson knows it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But she didn’t set out to make a film that was for everyone. She made it to show those with unique and different voices it is possible to get their project off the ground. She hopes the film is an inspiration. “My hope was, whether the movie is good or not, it’s another piece on the board,” she said. “People can look at and either go, ‘This movie is amazing, I want to do that,’ or you can go, ‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen, if she can do this, then I can definitely make a movie.’”

Brie Larson has always been outspoken about the need for diversity and respect within Hollywood and hopefully, her approach with Unicorn Store will spark more of it. “Through that, my hope is that we have more women, more people of color, people of different sexual orientations telling their stories because that’s what we need. We need just more. We need more of different.”

MARVEL COMES KNOCKING BUT FANS AREN’T HAPPY

Then came Marvel and Kevin Feige. Marvel was wanting to develop a strong female superhero and they landed on Captain Marvel. Brie Larson was not the only actress in the running. She was against the likes of Emily Blunt, Natalie Dormer, Rebecca Ferguson, Katee Sackhoff, and Yvonne Strahovski. As Larson recalls, though, she turned down Marvel a couple of times before finally meeting with them to discuss the film.

“I remember getting a call when I was shooting [Kong: Skull Island] … and they said Marvel is interested in you playing Captain Marvel,” recalls Larson in her own YouTube video. “I was like, ‘I can’t do that. I have too much anxiety. That’s too much for me. I don’t think I can handle that.'” Larson went on to explain that she told her team to turn the role down. A few months later, though, Marvel came calling again. “They were like, ‘Hey, they called again. Are you sure?’ [and] I was like, ‘Yeah. I’m too much of an introvert. That’s way too big of a thing for me.’ It was beyond my comprehension.”

Thankfully for Larson, the third time was the charm. “Every time I was telling them no, and I thought my team was telling them no, they were not. Because I think they were like, ‘She would be great as this.'” Larson went on to add why she was so hesitant in the first place, saying when she is filming a movie, she is unable to multitask. “If I’m on a job and I’m playing a character, I can’t self-tape. I can’t do anything else. I can only do one job at a time. I’m embodying this character, [so] I can’t think of anything else.” Apparently, while Marvel was asking, Brie Larson was in the middle of filming Kong: Skull Island.

Eventually, Larson got the role, much to the chagrin of fanboys everywhere. Not only did they want to see anyone else but Larson in the role, but once the film arrived, this group was not happy with her performance. They called it flat and emotionless. They didn’t feel the story worked nor did she work for the story. But a funny thing happened on the way to many a fanboy misery – the film bought in well over $1 billion at the box office. No matter what fanboys or any other Brie Larson detractors say, that is a huge number at the box office and one that assured that Brie Larson would be back as Captain Marvel.

DOES BRIE LARSON TRULY HATE 40-YEAR-OLD WHITE MEN?

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Perhaps one reason Brie Larson has found the waters to be a bit murky surrounding her career is the fact that she tells it like it is. Some people have a rough time with that. Take for instance Larson calling out those who review her films. Always seen as an advocate for diversity, Larson took shots at film reviewers who were taking shots at her.

“About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male,” Larson said in a 2019 interview with Marie Claire UK. “Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of color, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.

“To them, a call for expanded access to opportunities for women and people of color in a space traditionally dominated by white men…is not only an insult—it amounts to a threat to take away what they consider theirs.”

This was not the first time that Larson made similar comments. She was very outspoken in 2018 when she talked about the negative press she was reading for the film A Wrinkle in Time. “[Audiences] are not allowed enough chances to read public discourse on these films by the people that the films were made for. I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial,” she said via Elle Australia. “And for the third time, I do not hate white dudes, they are just facts, they are not my feelings,” she added.

BRIE LARSON IS QUITE PLAYFUL ON INSTAGRAM

If you want to know the real Brie Larson, go to her Instagram. There, she is very open and honest, not only showing off the seriousness of her craft but also showing off her very playful nature.

Brie is very active on social media, mainly Instagram. She can be very introspective, she can be very curious, and she can be very forthwith and engaging. She isn’t shy about showing off her workouts, her body, or even the man she calls her partner.

Brie doesn’t even mind sharing photos from the Marvel set when she is wishing her Spider-Man pal, Tom Holland, a happy birthday.

BRIE LARSON’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Instagram isn’t the only place that Brie Larson makes noise on social media. Believe it or not, she also has a YouTube channel that she frequents. It was a tough decision for her to start, so she asked friends, family, and a number of YouTube content creators their advice on how to tackle a YouTube channel.

Since that first video, Brie Larson has produced 60 videos for her channel on a vast range of topics. She talks about auditions, food, morning routines, and makeup routines. She has one video where she is teaching Tessa Thompson how to play Fortnite. It is all fun and informative and once again, just like her Instagram account, you can see the real Brie Larson. At the time of this writing, the account had amassed more than 683K followers.

WHAT IS NEXT?

Well, if you thought that Brie Larson was possibly moving on from Marvel, well then you thought wrong. After appearing in Captain Marvel, she returned in Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. Then she laced up Captain Marvel’s sneakers one more time for a mid-credits scene in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Next up for Larson and Marvel will be The Marvels which will see her team up with Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan and Teyonah Paris as Monica Rambeau. Samuel L. Jackson will also return as Nick Fury. The Marvels will premiere on July 28, 2023.

Even bigger though, which is hard to imagine, maybe the fact that Brie Larson is joining another billion-dollar franchise. Yes, it was recently announced that she will be joining the Fast & Furious franchise in the next film, Fast X. While her role isn’t known at this point, it’s really something to be a part of some of the biggest movie franchises out there. The Fast & Furious announcement came from Vin Diesel himself.

Whether you like her or not, Brie Larson isn’t going anywhere and to Marvel, that is good news. They are hoping with The Marvels, they will have the same, if not more, success as the first film. Vin Diesel thinks her addition will only bring more butts to the seats when Fast X hits movie theaters. Those of you who may be wavering on Brie, go check out her Instagram. Then, go check out her YouTube channel. You may finally see a side of her worth knowing.