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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Stranger Things Breakout Grace Van Dien Opens Up About ‘Controlling Her Own Voice’ as a Streamer

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Though she's been an actress her whole life, Grace Van Dien got international attention for her breakout role in last year's Stranger Things Season 4 as Chrissy Cunningham, the ill-fated cheerleader who made a big impact with a little screentime.

But many – at least the 326k people who follow her on Twitch – may know her best as Bluefille, a streamer who’s endeared thousands with her candid Just Chatting sessions and her frequent Valorant streams. In fact, she showed up just a couple of minutes late to our interview because she was in the middle of a round of Valorant (“I lost my game,” she laments).

She certainly caught the attention of FaZe Clan, as we’re chatting the same day it was announced that she’s joining the organization. But Van Dien, or FaZe Bluefille, has her own goal in joining the organization: to help “create lasting change for female gamers in this industry,” she said in the initial announcement.

“We picked each other for a reason and I’m excited to take on an important role in bringing women to the forefront,” she went on in the statement. “This is not just about the announcement of me joining FaZe, it's what we're going to do together.”

In speaking to IGN about the news, Van Dien elaborates further, saying she wants to “things that maybe haven't been done in the industry before that I still think have a place here” – things like a series on female gamers and larger-scale events to support them.

"Something I've learned from streaming is that I love controlling my own voice.


And while streaming and gaming in general hasn’t historically been known as a safe space for female creators, Van Dien has found some refuge in not only being able to curate the community around her, but her own image. She even jokes that a lot of fans who found her through Stranger Things were a little shocked to find that she says “fuck a lot more than Chrissy did.”

“A lot of my parts in acting consist of crying, and all of my streams consist of me laughing,” she says. “So, I mean, you can do the math there.”

She only started streaming in November 2021, but she’s loved video games her whole life – she remembers her family trouncing her in Super Smash Bros., “but I think I can kick their asses now” – and dove heavily into World of Warcraft, albeit having to use her friend’s account.

She wanted to stream for years, she said, but didn’t start until she finally got a PC. Her first stream was during the COVID-19 lockdown, a low-fi one of her sitting on the floor painting.

“Thank god nobody watched it because I had no idea how to do anything,” she laughs.

Obviously, she has learned a lot more about the world of streaming, and the following she’s gotten has opened up quite a few opportunities for her. For one, she says, she’s able to focus more on which projects she wants to do next, and had the opportunity to write more. But it also goes a little deeper than that, she tells IGN.

‘Even If I Do Feel Like I Sometimes Share Too Much, At Least It’s Me Sharing It’

Having grown up in the acting business from a family of actors (her father is Starship Troopers star Casper Van Dien, her mother is actor Carrie Mitchum, and her grandfather is Hollywood Golden Age star Robert Mitchum), she has the chance to get personal with her audience in a way her predecessors couldn’t.

“Something I've learned from streaming is that I love controlling my own voice,” she says. “Growing up in the public eye and with a very public family, there had been so many things learned about my family and about people closest to me that I felt should be kept private, and I felt very invaded upon because of that. And so getting to actually pick and choose what I talk about each day on stream is very empowering for me. Even if I do feel like I sometimes share too much, at least it's me sharing it.”

And she has, she admits, gotten a little too comfortable with her audience at times, even being surprised when comments she’s made during a stream make headlines (she was in the news back in March after she opened up on a stream that she’s become more selective in taking film roles due to a producer making unwanted sexual advances to her on set).

“I definitely ramble and talk a lot, and I mistakenly have said some things that I'm like, ‘Oh shit, yeah, I forget that this is broadcasted and recorded,’ “ she says. “…’Oh, I didn't mean for that to be such a huge thing. I was just, as they say, FaceTiming with a friend.’ I was in that mindset.”

That said, she does believe that transparency in what women go through in the industry is important, and one of the things that appeals to her about streaming – plus, you can "ban the creeps" on chat, whereas you can't ban them on a film set. She cites friends and fellow streamers like Valkyrie and Pokimane as inspirations, who have had their own struggles with the community.

"People shit-talk streaming a lot because of the misogynistic and toxic openness, but at least we're talking about it.


“They talk so much publicly about it, which is such a difference in the streaming world than the acting world,” she says. “In the acting world, up until the #MeToo movement, everyone was silent, and people are still silent to this day because there is such a fear of not working again and in streaming, that fear is not there because you're your own boss.”

“So people are very open and very talkative about the treatment that needs to be changed,” she continues. “I like that aspect of streaming a lot. People shit-talk streaming a lot because of the misogynistic and toxic openness, but at least we're talking about it.”

As for how to address that misogyny, Van Dien says organizations like FaZe Clan and companies like Twitch can help by “shunning the behavior that is misogynistic” and “boosting female creators,” one of Van Dien’s major goals.

Streaming, after all, is still something of a young industry, especially compared to Hollywood; it presents an opportunity to “start setting the blocks now,” Van Dien says. But it’s also an opportunity to break down the walls between the audience and the public figure – to get to know the community while letting them get to know you.

“I think before people really valued mystery and being an enigma in a creative industry, but I think especially with how times change so fast and with how much people are online now, people who act or make music could benefit a lot more from learning about their community and being more involved in it,” she says. “I think that's the only way to really grow creatively anymore is to really understand the people who enjoy your content.”


Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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