Rising star Anya Taylor-Joy

Rising star Anya Taylor-Joy: ‘I fled London at 14 because I was bullied so much’

Actress says she spent school years ‘crying in bathrooms’ after moving from Argentina

Model and actress Anya Taylor-Joy says she was so badly bullied at her west London school that she fled to New York as a teenager to escape.

The rising star, now 20, was born in Miami then lived in Argentina until she was six. She said she struggled to be accepted after moving to Britain.

“When I was younger I didn’t really feel like I fit in anywhere,” she said.

“I was too English to be Argentine, too Argentine to be English, too American to be anything.”

The star said she had “a tough time” in the classroom.

“The kids just didn’t understand me in any shape or form, and I was really badly bullied,” she said. “I used to get locked in lockers, you know, barred from classrooms, not invited to things. It wasn’t pleasant.”

Taylor-Joy said she spent a lot of her time in school “crying in bathrooms”.

“We’re social creatures and we don’t do well when we’re not accepted, or when we feel like we don’t belong anywhere,” she said.

She said her decision to move to New York at 14 — then give up school two years later to act — “terrified” her family.

But at 17 she got her big break, when she was spotted by a modelling scout as she walked her dog outside Harrods, and she is now in the running for the EE Bafta Rising Star Award.

She faces competition from other up-and-coming talent including Ruth Negga and Tom Holland.

Past winners include James McAvoy, with whom Taylor-Joy is starring in her latest project, M Night Shyamalan’s Split.

She plays an abused woman in the film, a role which she found emotionally difficult.

She said: “My characters are incredibly real for me and I was just in so much pain for her.

“No one should ever have to endure that, and I don’t know where people get off thinking that they own other women’s bodies, because you are the only owner of your body and no one is allowed to touch you without your consent.”