Ellen Page

Artform: Acting

‘This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.’

Ellen Page’s speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, February 14, 2014

Ellen Philpotts-Page (known professionally as Ellen Page) was born in Canada in 1987. Her career in acting began when she was just a child, with her experience in Canadian films and TV series earning her two Gemini awards by the time she turned 18. In the early 2000s, Page’s work continued to garner attention, with 2006 seeing her star in X-Men: The Last Stand as Kitty Pryde/Shadow Cat. [1] Her biggest appearance of the noughties was in the indie cult hit Juno (2007). For her performance as the title role, Page earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. [2] She has continued to land impressive work with roles in Inception (2010) and The Umbrella Academy (2019, 2020).

Juno and the multitude of exceptional performances that followed it secured Page’s spot on Hollywood’s A-List, but the actor is famed for her down-to-earth and modest attitude. Rather than revelling in the spotlight, Page has used her platform to promote a number of environmental and social causes. Watch Ellen talk about environmental activism here.

Page sought to make a documentary based on the book There’s Something in the Water by Ingrid Waldron, regarding environmental racism in Indigenous and Black Communities. Page believed that she could use her fame to shed light on this issue, and on the marginalised and disadvantaged communities in Canada that are disproportionally affected by bad environmental practices in their area. In it, representatives from indigenous, First Nations and Black communities speak about the environmental problems caused by pollution and corporations’ bad practice. These problems have also had a direct impact on the health of people living closest to the polluted areas, namely those inhabited by these marginalised communities. The documentary, co-directed and co-produced by Page, premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Canadian Feature Film. It was released on Netflix in 2020. [3] Watch the trailer here.

Page is also a proud member of the LGBT community, and came out in a famous speech given in 2014. Page was speaking at a Human Rights Campaign-organised conference called Time to Thrive. She addressed an audience of counsellors who work with LGBT teenagers, and afterwards received much praise for her courage and candour. [4] Watch the speech here.

She filmed the series Gaycation (2016) with friend Ian Daniel which sought to explore LGBTQ+ culture around the globe, and look at how some parts of the world treat the LGBTQ+ community. From the US to Ukraine, Page and Daniel met with a broad range of people, from LGBT activists, to members of Neo-Nazi groups who routinely commit assaults on the LGBT community. In Brazil, Page interviewed a man in a carpark who openly confessed to the murder of multiple LGBT people. After checking if it would be safe to do so, she told this man that she was gay. He paused, and left. [5] [6]

Ellen Page has made it her mission to use her fame to give a platform to important social and environmental issues of our time. Her work is an incredible example of what can be achieved when someone uses their opportunities and their privilege to shine a light on other people and amplify other voices. As Eva Wiseman succinctly put it, ‘the product of her acting is not the film, but instead the activism. The film is just the thing she does to make strangers listen.’ [6]

[1] https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/ellen-page

[2] https://www.empireonline.com/people/ellen-page/

[3] https://globalnews.ca/news/6744430/ellen-page-environmental-racism-documentary-netflix/

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/feb/15/ellen-page-comes-out-speech-human-rights-campaign

[5] https://deadline.com/2017/08/gaycation-ellen-page-ian-daniel-emmys-interview-news-1202151280/

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/jan/20/ellen-page-im-not-afraid-to-say-the-truth-interview-coming-out