Emmy Nominee Anya Taylor-Joy Says Her Early Childhood Was Very ‘Traumatic’

Anya Taylor-Joy is an actor who is quickly making her mark on Hollywood. She was just nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role as Beth Harmon in the hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. With a lot of attention on Taylor-Joy right now, some people are curious about her life, which, according to her, hasn’t always been filled with happy moments.

Anya Taylor-Joy attending the premiere of Focus Features' "Emma" in 2020
Anya Taylor-Joy | Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Anya Taylor-Joy struggled to fit in after moving from Argentina to London

Two years after announcing to her parents that she wanted to be an actor, Anya Taylor-Joy and her family moved from Buena Aires, Argentina, to London, England, when she was eight years old. The Peaky Blinders star found the relocation to be difficult, especially since she didn’t speak any English when she moved to Europe.

“Argentina is all green and I had horses and animals everywhere,” Taylor-Joy explained to The Sun in November 2020. “All of a sudden I was in a big city and didn’t speak the language. I didn’t really feel like I fitted in anywhere.”

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During an interview with Evening Standard, the actor revealed that her move to London was very “traumatic,” noting that she felt ostracized in school due to her not speaking the same language as her peers.

“To begin with it was traumatic because I didn’t speak a word of English,” she told the outlet. “I had just started to read in Spanish and when we got to England I was like, I don’t speak this language, I can’t read, I can’t keep up in school… I felt very alienated. It definitely left me with the feeling of being an outsider.”

She continued, “I just didn’t fit in at school. I couldn’t find that niche that I saw other kids exploring.”

The actor says she was bullied throughout school

Because she spoke a different language than all of the other kids in school, Anya Taylor-Joy became a target for bullying from her classmates.

“I was too English to be Argentine, too Argentine to be English, too American to be anything,” she told Evening Standard. “The kids just didn’t understand me in any shape or form. I used to get locked in lockers.”

The bullying had gotten so bad that actor alienated herself from others while school was in session.

“I spent a lot of time in school crying in bathrooms, I was so lonely as a kid,” The Witch star continued. “I felt so isolated that I created this story in my head about lonely was bad, being alone was bad. That can be quite an impactful feeling, especially if you’ve taught yourself to fear it.”

Anya Taylor-Joy left home at a young age to pursue an acting career

After enduring years of mistreatment from her classmates, Anya Taylor-Joy left school to escape the constant bullying. She eventually left London altogether to pursue a career in acting.

“I ran away to New York at 14,” Taylor-Joy said while appearing on The HFPA In Conversation podcast earlier this year. “I was having a really bad time at school and I wanted to be an actor. So I enrolled in a director’s program and I got in. I came down to go to school one day and I said to my parents, ‘Look, I’m not going to school. I’ve saved up enough money to buy myself a plane ticket to New York. I’m going to do this and you can either be a part of it with me, or I’m just going to go do it by myself.’ My parents were amazing and they supported me in it.”

Since landing her first acting role in the 2014 horror-comedy Vampire Academy, Taylor-joy has appeared in films and television shows left and right. Her latest acting gig was playing chess prodigy Beth Harmon in the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit.

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Now that she has been in the acting circuit for a few years, the actor finally feels like she belongs.

“Much the same way as Beth needed chess, I needed acting,” Taylor-Joy said in ELLE magazine’s May 2021 Rising Stars issue. “I needed to believe in a place where I could be valued and appreciated, and actually have something to contribute rather than constantly feeling like, ‘What is wrong with me, and why do I not fit in?'”