Ariel Winter has parted ways with Los Angeles for her sanity.
The actress appeared on Modern family Mommy Julie Bowen’s podcast quitters to discuss how she recently sold her house, packed up a U-Haul, and moved out of Hollywood with her boyfriend, Luke Benward, and dogs. The 24-year-old’s complicated relationship with fame is behind the move. She said she had been in the spotlight for most of her life, getting tired of being followed by paparazzi and that the photos were used to feed negative gossip about her.
“Part of the reason I always hated LA was because I was followed by paparazzi for a very long part of my life,” said Winter, who got the role of Alex Dunphy at age 11. “I really don’t like having my space invaded. I don’t like pictures of me [that] I have not signed up for. I don’t like to be watched. I’ve always just wanted to live a really normal life, have a normal existence and I never really felt like I could. Everywhere I went, someone took my picture. I’m just not that person. Fame and all that is not something I’m interested in. I just want to live as normal a life as possible.”
Winter traced the beginnings of negative paparazzi and tabloid attention to 2012, when her then-mother, Chrisoula Workman, initially lost custody of her over allegations of abuse. The personal saga played out for years with Winter’s sister, Shanelle Gray, who became her guardian before being emancipated.
She called it “really traumatic” that 30 paparazzi from the age of 14 followed her daily, shouting things and hoping to provoke a reaction to their photos. That trauma continued as she grew into a woman in the spotlight, examining and disgracing photos of her body. She said paparazzi have continued to follow her today in hopes of getting her “f*** up”. She said everything takes a “negative” spin and turns into “lies”.
“I don’t feel comfortable letting my dog out on the street,” said the dog lover. “When my dog comes off the leash, I can’t say, ‘What the hell are you coming back here for!’ It’s going to be [turned into]: ‘Ariel Winter, rescue lawyer, screaming and abusing dog’ when I’m really just trying not to let my dog get hit on the street. Everything I do is scrutinized.”
Now that she’s officially moved to her new city, without identifying her to maintain her privacy, “It’s kind of a principle for me to [like]: ‘Haha, you don’t get a fuck about me.’ What I want to bring out is what will be brought out. I never wanted everyone to know everything about my life. I am not a particularly open person. I want to have privacy and I’ve never really had privacy to just live my life.”
As for critics who will inevitably say that paparazzi and tabloid attention go hand in hand with a star: “This sounds aggressive, but it really sucks,” she said. “Until you’ve experienced it, you don’t understand… Just because you signed up to create something doesn’t mean you’re signing up to invade and take your life from you… You should be able to choose what you share.”
She added: “There are people who are okay with sharing everything in their lives – and I respect that. But it should be a choice. I want you to see my work and my characters. That’s where a lot of people in the industry… Everyone deserves privacy and to share what they want to share about themselves… [People] think, oh, you’ve got money… just take that and accept it. New. I did myself a favor by leaving LA”
Winter also spoke of being in therapy for ten years, which has helped her not only navigate her family trauma and relationship with Benward, a longtime friend she began a romantic relationship with in 2020, but also to unpack what it was like. to grow up on TV in the age of social media and, horribly, deeply embarrassed at age 13.
She said the “fat slut” comments people made about her led her to change things about herself at first. However, “when I turned 18 I realized that every time I changed there was something new that [people] hated about me. I was like, ‘Okay, so they’re never going to be happy. It is what it is.’ When I got older, I could care about it a little bit.”
But what stayed with her was how “people feel comfortable” making those mean comments in the first place. She now looks at her nieces – who are the same age as when she experienced much of it – and said it is “devastating for me to see the drop effect… to see them experience the same fears and discomforts with themselves that I did. Even if it’s on a smaller scale, it doesn’t matter… It hurts my heart.”
Winter said she will return to LA when work calls. In fact, right after she moved out, now two months ago, she was hired to replace Demi Lovato in the pilot. Hungry† She’ll probably even get an apartment there to stay in when she’s in town to work.
As for life in her new city, Winter said in the best way, “It’s just so different.” “It makes me so happy to know that life is going to be the way I always hoped.”
At 24 she “is only now starting the journey of: What do I want? What do I need?” and in this ‘new chapter’ she doesn’t want to be ‘the person who is remembered for the outfit they wore’, but for the good things she does.’
Plus, “I don’t want to turn 30 and still not feel healed and still not feel at peace in myself.”