'X-Men' star Alexandra Shipp publicly comes out during Pride Month
X-Men actor Alexandra Shipp has marked Pride Month by publicly coming out as part of the LGBT+ community.
Shipp portrayed weather-controlling mutant Storm — previously played by Halle Berry — in the 2016 movie X-Men: Apocalypse and subsequently reprised the role in the 2019 sequel Dark Phoenix.
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The 29-year-old star posted a message to fans on Instagram, revealing that she kept her sexuality secret until last year.
She said: "I struggled with not only my sexuality, but my femininity. I was scared it was too late. I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to get work. I was scared no one would ever love me. Scared. Scared. Scared.
"It’s exhausting being scared all the time. It’s exhausting chasing other people’s ideas and opinions of who you should be."
Shipp wrote that she is now "happy in ways I don't think my kid self could imagine" and that she is thrilled to be able to be authentically herself.
She added: "If I don’t work because of a flawed, racist and homophobic system, then it was never the right thing for me.
"I KNOW multiple someone’s love me and I’m so fortunate and grateful for the love they show me on a daily basis. I’m not denying anything anymore. I’m not scared anymore."
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Her message concluded: "Sure, we get a month. But for the past three years and for the rest of my life, I’ll be celebrating every day. Because I choose me."
Shipp had appeared in an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton before her mutant role, but X-Men helped her to break out in Hollywood.
She has since taken on roles in Love Simon and romantic drama Endless, with a part in Lin-Manuel Miranda musical Tick, Tick... Boom! on the way later this year.
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The future of her X-Men character is not yet known, with Dark Phoenix marking the final movie in the franchise made by 20th Century Fox prior to the studio becoming a part of Disney.
Watch: Dark Phoenix stars discuss future of the X-Men franchise