Scarlett Johansson

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2 mins read

Scarlett Ingrid Johansson was born in the Manhattan borough of New York City on November 22, 1984. Her father, Karsten Olaf Johansson, is an architect originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, and her paternal grandfather, Ejner Johansson, was an art historian, screenwriter and film director, whose own father was Swedish. Scarlett’s mother, Melanie Sloan, a producer, comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, from Poland and Russia. She has an older sister, Vanessa, also an actress; an older brother, Adrian; and a twin brother, Hunter. Johansson also has an older half-brother, Christian, from her father’s first marriage. She holds both American and Danish citizenship.

Johansson attended PS 41, an elementary school in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. Her parents divorced when she was 13. Johansson was particularly close to her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Sloan, a bookkeeper and schoolteacher; they often spent time together and Johansson considered Sloan her best friend. Interested in a career in the spotlight from an early age, she often put on song-and-dance routines for her family. She was particularly fond of musical theater and jazz hands. She took lessons in tap dance, and states that her parents were supportive of her career choice. She describes her childhood as very ordinary.

As a child, Johansson practiced acting by staring in the mirror until she made herself cry, wanting to be Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis. At age seven, she was devastated when a talent agent signed one of her brothers instead of her, but she later decided to become an actress anyway. She enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and began auditioning for commercials, but soon lost interest. She shifted her focus to film and theater, making her first stage appearance in the Off-Broadway play Sophistry with Ethan Hawke, in which she had two lines. Around this time, she began studying at Professional Children’s School (PCS), a private educational institution for aspiring child actors in Manhattan. At age nine, Johansson made her film debut. 

Johansson has supported various charitable organizations, including Aid Still RequiredCancer Research UKStand Up To CancerToo Many Women (which works against breast cancer), and USA Harvest, which provides food for people in need. In 2005, Johansson became a global ambassador for the aid and development agency Oxfam. In 2007, she took part in the anti-poverty campaign ONE, which was organized by U2’s lead singer Bono. In March 2008, a UK-based bidder paid £20,000 on an eBay auction to benefit Oxfam, winning a hair and makeup treatment, a pair of tickets, and a chauffeured trip to accompany her on a 20-minute date to the world premiere of He’s Just Not That into You

In January 2014, Johansson resigned from her Oxfam position after criticism of her promotion of SodaStream, whose main factory was based in Mishor Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank; Oxfam opposes all trade with such Israeli settlements. Oxfam stated that it was thankful for her contributions in raising funds to fight poverty. Together with her Avengers costars, Johansson raised $500,000 for the victims of Hurricane Maria.

In 2018, she collaborated with 300 women in Hollywood to set up the Time’s Up initiative to protect women from harassment and discrimination. She took part in Women’s March in Los Angeles in January 2018 and spoke on topics such as abuses of power and shared her own experience. Johansson was criticised for calling out James Franco on allegations of sexual misconduct as in the past she had been silent on working with Woody Allen amid accusation by his daughter Dylan Farrow.