Jessica Chastain is opening up about her difficult upbringing and showing gratitude to those who helped her along the way.
The “Eyes of Tammy Faye” star spoke candidly to The Sunday Times about how she “struggled as a kid” while being raised by a single mom who gave birth to her as a teenager.
“I’m the first person in my family to not be pregnant when I was 17,” Chastain told the British publication for a profile published Wednesday.
She said she was able to pursue her dreams because Planned Parenthood gave her access to birth control pills.
“It had a great impact on my life because it gave me choice,” she said.
Chastain told the Times that she and her four siblings faced financial hardships, and that sometimes her family couldn’t afford basic necessities.
“I have a rebellious streak because I grew up with a lot of resentment, because we didn’t have things, like even food,” she said. “I don’t talk about it much, but it was really, um, it was not what you would expect. When people see me, I think they expect a different background than I have.”
Chastain also credited others for giving her opportunities she may not have had otherwise. When she caught the acting bug, for example, she was able to work at a performing arts school in exchange for classes.
“There was no way my family could afford it,” Chastain said. “There were people that saw I was struggling as a kid and they helped me. And that’s why I ended up where I am now.”
Chastain has a history of stepping up to help others, while staying true to her own values and background.
In 2018, for example, one of Chastain’s Instagram followers criticized the actor for a post about being pro-choice. Chastain responded that she did indeed support reproductive rights and said that “everyone has the right to make their own decision.” Chastain then noticed that the follower who had criticized her was raising money on GoFundMe to afford infertility treatments, and the actor donated $2,000 to support the follower’s decision to try to have a child.
Chastain has also been quick to apologize when merited.
When she received criticism in 2017 for appearing on a Los Angeles Times magazine cover that featured only white women to promote a story on empowering women in Hollywood, Chastain acknowledged her mistake and called the photo a “sad look” in a tweet.
“The industry needs to become more inclusive in its storytelling,” she wrote, and asked her Twitter followers to name women of color who should have been honored instead of her.
Read The Sunday Times’ entire profile of Chastain here.