Ellen Page on Connecting to Vanya’s Anxiety and Depression in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

In the Netflix original mega-hit The Umbrella Academy, Ellen Page stars as Vanya, AKA The White Violin. Though adopted by the same billionaire industrialist as her superhuman siblings, she is the only one – who at the show’s opening – is powerless. However, she is a talented violinist and part of a local orchestra.

Ellen Page
Ellen Page | Getty Images

In the series, Vanya takes pills for “her nerves” and struggles to find her place in the family dynamic. She is an outcast, wrestling with her identity and purpose, Vayna is seemingly closed off from intimacy.

In an interview with RadioTimes, Ellen Page stated, “I know what it’s like to feel trapped in your mind” regarding her portrayal of Vanya. Vanya, volatile and in need of understanding and compassion, retains the most fleshed-out narrative arc.

In terms of relating to the character, Page stated:

“I guess I related to where we found her in terms of things more in my past: in terms of her anxiety, her being so shut down, her struggling with depression. Stuff that one has to work through…I know what it’s like to feel trapped in your mind. I think that’s what Vanya’s struggling with at the beginning, you know? She doesn’t even know how to have friendships. And what you’d say to people in that position who are maybe dealing with similar issues is that none of it is their fault: they’re entitled to their feelings and hopefully they could get support. The problem is a lot of people can’t access it. It’s not available to them, and our society doesn’t treat that in the way that we should”


Ellen Page, since coming out back in 2014, has been an advocate for the LGBT+ community and those who suffer from mental health issues. Vanya’s story – that of a sufferer motivated into action – parallels her own story in many ways.

Ellen Page: A sufferer turned savior

Though overcoming her struggles in Hollywood and transforming into the advocate she is today, the suffering she endured was unacceptable.

Page, told that coming out would hurt her career, hid her girlfriends in the bathroom when hotel service entered. Or, she woul ask them to leave buildings from different exits, according to The Cheat Sheet.

Because Page’s career kicked off around the same time she started dating women, she was trapped. Forced to hide her true identity so that her career could flourish. Hollywood – the so-called “liberal” institution whose mission it should be to use art as a way to reflect and comment on society – presented two options: come out or be an actress.

Ellen Page initially kept her sexuality quiet. When she finally came out on Valentine’s Day in 2014, everything changed, for the better.

What Ellen Page has done to help

Most recently, Ellen Page spoke about the importance of acceptance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  Ellen Page argued that while Hollywood has progressed, the improvements are not nearly sufficient.

During her interview with Stephen Colbert, Page talked about the recent Jussie Smollett debacle and mainly took time to discuss Vice President Mike Pence. Speaking of the man who wishes “she couldn’t be married,” Ellen Page apologized for getting fired up.

Page acknowledges her privileged position as an actress and, according to RadioTimes, uses her status to provide a voice to those she feels are more deserving. She stated:

“People far more brave and courageous than me, [trans rights activist] Miss Major for example, have been doing this for decades, and risking their lives,” she explains. “I’m fortunate to have a platform where hopefully I can amplify voices that are far more important than mine, quite frankly.”

Radio times

Ellen Page, a voice of her generation and an inspiration, uses her status to catalyze change in an industry, and in a society, that still needs a lot of work.