Brooke Shields: ‘Adults blackmailed me’

Brooke Shields first became famous as an innocent ‘talk show host’ – the attractive, castaway girl in Pretty Baby. Now in the latest women in Hollywood fightback series She & Him, a pre-teen Shields (briefly on fire herself) plays a troubled character – a teenager unable to cope in the home of two rapists. Shields signed a confidentiality contract with director Debra Granik before making the movie. As a result, the Oscar-nominated film is shrouded in mystery. But in an interview for the BBC’s The Culture Show, Shields talks candidly about her own experiences as a child prostitute, and the legal contractual pressures put on her. Presenter Sophie Raworth: You and your brother started noticing bottles at the local grocery store of money. Was it about theft? Brooke Shields: No, it was about me and my brother seeing one another from inside a cash register as we were getting our groceries. S: Why? Brooke Shields: Just to have some cheap – and it was almost pure money – and it was just something that would stop – us being able to see each other, you know? S: Well, it was first in Paris then in New York, and was this your first experience of prostitution, or child prostitution? BR: Yeah. S: In any… different way to what character you’ve played? BR: I guess not. We’d been working so hard to find as many places to pay the rent and as much as money as we could. S: Was money an issue for you? BR: It was just for me, because I had to make that payment to my parents in the money they gave me. S: Once your parents paid for that, was it okay for you to continue? BR: Yeah, they paid my ‘debt’ to them, and they didn’t have the money, which was hard, but the money was enough to make sure I didn’t get beaten for it and there was another child, little girls, that had been sold, and it just frightened me so much, too. That child, her mother found us and she didn’t want to be seen, so she never told us where she was, so, yeah, it was such a nightmare, to get to that place. But you did find ways to create support networks – did your parents offer you homes? BR: I did. S: So you weren’t on your own? BR: I was on my own for that, but that was what we had to do. The Culture Show airs on Monday 9 April at 2100 BST on BBC One.

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