Alyssa Milano on balancing acting and activism: ‘I feel really good about how the two are married right now’

There’s a very meta exchange between Alyssa Milano’s bestselling crime novelist Grace Miller and her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup) in the new Netflix thriller Brazen. Discussing the females murdered in her books, Grace points out the difference between objectifying women as victims versus her intent of commenting on their exploitation in a patriarchal society.

It’s a fitting discourse for a film that will have its own female victims, including Kathleen, who held a secret side hustle as an online S&M dominatrix and whose murder Grace will have to help solve.

The treatment of women in Brazen, based on the book by popular novelist Nora Roberts and directed by Monika Mitchell, clearly satisfied the Who’s the Boss? and Charmed alum who takes a rare starring film role in it — and whose key role in the #MeToo movement lead her to become one of the most prominent celebrities-turned-activists on social media and beyond.

“We worked very hard, with the writer and the director to make sure that we were saying things out loud that we all believed to be true, which is sex work is work,” Milano, 49, tells us in a recent virtual interview promoting the film (watch above). “That people sometimes do things because they have to, and that we do very little to protect the vulnerable. I knew that if we could get all of those aspects into this, that it was going to be a truly empowering film for women to watch.”

Alyssa Milano in 'Brazen' (Netflix)
Alyssa Milano in Brazen. (Photo: Netflix)

Milano also talked at length about her political activism around women’s rights and other progressive causes, which she says has had a positive impact on her acting career.

“I think my activism has made me a lot braver in my acting,” Milano says. “It takes a certain amount of guts to go testify in front of Congress on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment, or go sit down in a room with Ted Cruz, which I've done, and talk about gun violence prevention. I think those moments in my activism are pretty easy. I become pretty fearless because I think that there is a warrior instinct almost, because that work is so fulfilling to me. And so I've been able to take that courage and that ability to not really care what people think into my acting, which I think has made me a better actor, for sure. I'm certainly less self-conscious, and maybe that just comes with age and just being more comfortable in my skin.

“I feel really good about how the two are married right now. There were many times in my career [and] in my activism where I felt like they weren't working in harmony. But now I really believe that there is real meaning to having a platform. There used to be a time when we would only be able to talk about issues that matter to us when we were given the opportunity, whether doing an interview or an article or something. But now, because of social media, we get to control our own narrative. And so I do think it's a lot easier to sort of marry all of the parts of who I am, including being a mom and a wife and a business woman and a writer and all of it.”

Brazen is currently streaming on Netflix.

— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee

Watch the trailer: