Mallory 'Mal' Brownhill is the daughter of a successful Hollywood producer and a retired runway model, who is now heavily engaged in the fight for women's rights worldwide. In the business since a young age, Mal's greatest challenge has been to overcome the generalized perception that she lands her gigs for her family connections and not actual merit. With only a couple of minor appearances beforehand, her breakout role happened in 2003, when she was cast to play "The O.C."'s Summer Roberts. She has since starred in several movies, including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1 & 2), Final Destination 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Silver Linings Playbook. Despite a growing film CV, Mal identifies mostly as a TV actress, where she's appeared on shows such as Breaking Bad, Chuck, How I Met Your Mother, Alphas and more recently Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, where she is set to reprise her role as White Canary in a second season next year.
Her transition from teen idol to super hero has not been without tidal waves in the tabloids. She was often splattered on those pages by no will of her own, portrayed as a party girl in her teens and made infamous by a nudes leak scandal in 2004 (gag orders were issued and the pictures can no longer be found on high profile websites, under allegations that Mallory was underage when they were taken). Previous failed relationships with co-stars make her an easy target for "Who is She Dating?" columns and have earned her a "fame whore" moniker by a fair share of the fandoms she's played in. Now in her 30s and consistently appearing as a serious actor, Mallory's started to shake off her previous reputation and, following her mother's footsteps, has also emerged as an activist for women's rights.
A heavy presence on social media, she's respected by co-workers for her work ethics and hasn't been involved in scandals since early 00's. Good girl acts don't sell, however, and Mallory's often the target of careless lies and purposely faulty journalism. Currently there are two pending lawsuits against magazines and blogs for defamation. All in a day's work.
Mallory Danielle Brownhill was born on August 18, 1981, youngest of two children, to a sucessful Hollywood producer (a la Dick Wolf) and retired runway model (a la Cindy Crawford). Growing up in Los Angeles was trying and having her awkward phases recorded for posterity gave her material for therapy for many years. She grew up surrounded by adults, in an environment far beyond what her emotional maturity could handle.
Back in the 1980s, there wasn't much awareness or concern over the consequences of media exposure of children. Awards shows, premieres and playtime at the studio were routine for Mallory. A happy childhood, with all the perks of a robust bank account, was peckered with situations Mal still tries to make sense of today.
Back then, she was tied at her father's hip, admiring his position in the industry and the reverence with which he was treated by many. It wasn't until years later, well into her teens, that the superhero image would break with the realization that her father had never been quite the man she'd worshipped growing up.
Her parents' divorce when she was 16 brought up a lot of dirt to the surface. Her family life was displayed to the public and judged by strangers. News of her father's infidelities came to light, including an affair with an actress only a couple of years older than Mallory was back then. As the hero shattered before her eyes, she slowly pieced together all the other behavior that was right in front of her face and she wouldn't allow herself to see.
His absence, his disrespect towards her mother, the 15-year age gap between her parents, the models that came to audition in his home studio even while she was home... it all came together as a web of deceit and disillusion to Mal. As her parents engaged in a gruesome legal battle for their assets and custody, Mallory took advantage of her easy access to parties, money and drugs to numb her feelings.
Underage drinking was no problem for someone with her connections and she became a staple at many clubs and Hollywood soirees over the following two years. Her high school graduation came at the same time her parents' divorce was finalized. By then, her partying had gotten out of hand and her drug use had begun to worry her. Mallory never considered herself an addict, defaulting to coke only socially at parties. When the habit started to worm its way over to her daily routine, she realized she needed to change or she'd go down an ugly road.
With the divorce finally out of the way, her mother had decided to move to London. Mallory went to live with her, postponing her college admissions for another year as she figured out what to do with her life. Despite her desire to distance herself from her father and his lifestyle, Mallory found herself dating an actor.
Attending classes with him awoke the entertainment gene in her blood and it became clear to her what she needed to do with her life. The next few years were filled with acting, singing and dancing coaches, classes and degrees. Her spirit had soothed significantly during her time away from Los Angeles. By the time she turned 21, she felt she was ready to return to the city of angels and try her luck there as an actress.
Though she'll claim she absolutely did not use her father's name to open doors for her, Mallory knows it was a decisive factor in the opportunities she got. From the people representing her to the roles she was called in to audition for, the undeniable bubble-wrapping of privilege had her smooth sailing into her breakout role as Summer Roberts in the The O.C. in 2003.
The show was a bigger hit than anyone could have imagined. Mallory saw fame level rise, this time for perfectly legit reasons. Now on the other side of cameras, she struggled to keep her private life private and the media coverage focused on her professional feats. Her past in the tabloids, however, garnered her attention from paps and she found her every move splattered over the news.
Aware of the ugly side of fame being an occupational hazard, she paid it little mind until every limit and boundary she could possibly have was crossed and trampled on. With the success of the show, an ex-boyfriend had contacted her, asking for money in exchange for nude pictures. Back then, in 2004, the Paris Hilton sex tape leak was still fresh and more cases were popping up.
Although she agreed to the blackmail under her team's advice, the man had already shopped the pictures to several media outlets and before she could get them back, she woke up to her intimacy violated on blogs and online gossip sites. The following days were filled with tears and high-level stress as her team worked on damage control and she worked on dealing with the absurd judgment and victim-blaming that surrounded such scandals.
It was then that she reached out to her father, from whom she'd been estranged since moving to London years prior. She asked him for help to fight the backlash and he promptly put his legal team to work on issuing gag orders, as well as using his influence in the industry to initimidate any outlets that continued to publish the pictures and story.
With sex leaks still being seen back then as a "fame whore" move rather than a sex crime, she spent the next year working to repair the damage to her career and reputation. Her debut on the big screen with the movie "The Prince and Me" was overshadowed by the incident and producers considered delaying the release date of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants", already in post-production by then.
Despite many claiming her career got a boost as more people knew who she was as a result of the scandal, Mallory looks back on it with regret and sorrow, unable to process the symbolic violence behind the entire situation. Later in her career, she would join in 2010, a growing movement against revenge porn, which had become widespread with the development of digital technology and social media.
Learning from the leak scandal, however, Mal became a much more private person, refusing to discuss her private life in interviews and advising her publicity team not to divulge her location to paps unless necessary. As time went on, her reputation and media perception slowly started to shift.
After The O.C. was cancelled in 2007, she took a year off to recover and rest her image, appearing only in the sequel for "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants", where she reprised her role in 2008. In that same year she was cast for the new season of Breaking Bad, where she'd portray Jesse Pinkman's girlfriend, who was also a drug addict.
Mallory was excited for the role, the first adult one and one that differed from the typecast she was worried about being locked into. Though her presence on the show was short-lived, it was an amazing experience for her and one that opened doors for the next page in her career.
In 2010, she appeared in one episode of Chuck as a spy and in 2011, in the action film "Killer Elite", along many big names in the business. These roles paved the way for her new focus as an action actor, appearing in the TV show "Alphas" over 2011-2012, before she was cast in her current role in the DC TV-verse of Arrow (2013-2015) and, later, Legends of Tomorrow (2015-current), as Sara Lance, aka the White Canary.