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Rose McGowan on what it means to be brave

The activist, author and former actress shares what matters most to her in life

by Danielle Woodward

Rose McGowan

4 minute read

Interview: Danielle Woodward

Writing Brave was cathartic, but it took a long time to get there. I was really angry with my father but, when it was published, something shifted and I felt able to visit his grave and let bygones be bygones. My relationship with myself changed, too; I worked through a lot of my fears. The book is part personal memoir and part manifesto for getting people to rise up and it worked that way for me, too – by the end of it, I was ready to take on the world, so I did!

It’s OK to be angry. So many people are not allowed to have that emotion, especially women, and I disagree. It doesn’t mean you’ll be angry all the time, it just means that things are unfair, you’re calling out the unfairness and taking back that which has been taken from you.

Being brave is having the courage to do the right thing, even when it’s brutally difficult. It doesn’t mean you’re not scared; it means you do the scary thing anyway. I live my life that way. Each time, you grow stronger and you realise that you’re capable of so many things you didn’t think you’d survive, but you do.

Honesty, strength and bravery are my core values; I’ve yet to meet the person who I’d sell myself out for. Integrity is important, too – who you look at in the mirror, that person has to answer to just you. So, if you can’t look yourself in the face, what are you doing? Loyalty is not something I’ve known a lot about; I’m wary of trusting but you either trust no one or believe that most people are good, and that’s what I do.

I was raised without any focus on gender or race, which was a unique way to experience the world. It was a sort of superpower; I lived in an internal world, without any focus on the external at all. I was a beautiful young girl and it took the importance of that away. We were raised as individual minds.

I don’t see the harm in telling the truth. To others, it’s scary, but I guess that’s what being brave is all about. It makes people uncomfortable, but I think it’s OK to be uncomfortable for a bit; it doesn’t mean you’re that way forever – if you’re wearing a bra that’s too tight, you take it off and you’re comfortable again.

Hollywood is a cult-like mentality; it’s the one big industry in that town, it’s all people talk about and they adhere to these illusory rules that were made up to appease the studio heads years ago. People buy into it, and I’ve written about demystifying the illusions that you’re sold. Being on the outside is a healthier place to be but I’m still finding my footing. It feels like a new era, which is both scary and thrilling – I get to live my life for me now.

I love travelling; seeing new places and meeting new people, and simple things like a nice cup of tea and a good book. Reading lets me escape into another world and gives my mind a break. I’ve met people who don’t read and I don’t understand it. Dogs make me happy, too. I’d say the dogs I had when I was in Hollywood saved my life.

I’m working on music for an album called Planet Nine; the imaginary planet I’d escape to in my head when I was 10. Four years ago, astronomers found what they believe could be Planet Nine. Making the music was my therapy while I wrote Brave; it’s music to go to space to! I added alpha wave technology to the tracks to massage the brain; it’s a unique experience.

Ultimately, people need to realise that they can be brave in their own lives, that they don’t need a hero, they can be their own hero. I want to give people back the idea that they are free to be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. As far as we know, there is only one life, so fight for it – it’s worth the fight.

Brave’ by Rose McGowan (HQ, £9.99) is out now in paperback, audio and ebook

Photograph: Paul Grover/REX/Shutterstock

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