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One year ago, the Democratic National Convention was buzzing with celebrities like Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, and Elizabeth Banks. But none of them had closer proximity to the candidate than Chloë Grace Moretz, who took the stage 45 minutes before Hillary Clinton.

“It was one of the happiest moments of my life, that’s for sure,” recalls Moretz, 20, on a recent afternoon, sitting with her two-month-old pug, Ruby. The actress had such a plum spot at the DNC because organizers were hoping she’d reach first-time millennial voters.

Moretz has something in common with her multitasking generation: She knows what it’s like to burn out as a teenager. After appearing in dozens of movies since she was a pint-size kid, Moretz realized at 18 that she needed a yearlong break. She left her home in Los Angeles for a solitary vacation in Tulum, Mexico, embarked on a few road trips, dated and spent time with her friends — a period that she likens to the gap year that high school students may take before heading to college.

“It was one of the most important things I’ve done yet in my life,” Moretz tells Variety. “It allowed me to stand back and go, ‘I’ve had a career since I was six years old, I’ve made over 52 films and who am I?’”

Zoey Grossman for Variety

Many know Moretz from films such as “Kick-Ass” and “Carrie.” Outside her on-screen persona, she’s also cultivated a robust following on social media, with 13.4 million Instagram fans browsing through her feed that’s more defined by black-and-white portraits than selfies. Her most notorious internet moment came last year when she got in a nasty Twitter feud with Kim Kardashian West over posting a nude selfie. “It’s sad for her to reach out like that to a young woman,” says Moretz, who hasn’t interacted with Kardashian West since. “There’s a lot of woman-on-woman hate.”

Moretz has always portrayed strong female characters. There was her feminist college student in “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” as well as supporting roles in “Laggies” and “Clouds of Sils Maria,” where she played a deliciously self-absorbed teenage movie star. But now, the recharged Moretz is entering her 20s with a different mantra. “I want to do things that introduce messages to people, and they show a side of life that maybe people aren’t privy to,” she explains.

The first script she read after her hiatus was “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” in which she stars as a young girl forced into a gay conversion therapy center. She shot the movie during the election, whose outcome left her stunned. She went to bed early on election night because she had to be up at dawn for her call time. When she woke, she looked at her phone and screamed. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m going to work on a gay conversion therapy movie, which Pence supports,’” she recalls, referring to the vice president.

Nov. 9 was a bleak day on set. Moretz was sobbing until director Desiree Akhavan addressed the cast and crew. “We all sat there on this tiny little movie, and she gave a speech about how in this moment, this became one of the most important movies being made right now,” Moretz says. “It was heartbreaking, but being able to use that outlet made it so therapeutic.”

Shortly after Trump’s victory, most of Moretz’s friends wanted to flee the United States, but that’s when she realized her voice was a powerful tool. “I was like, ‘No! That’s not what you do as an American.’ As an American, you fight for your country, and we protect our country, and we protect our rights, and we protect those that are weak and cannot speak.”

Moretz, who is “one hundred percent” sure she will see a female president in her lifetime (“I’ve got 60 years ahead of me!” she gasps), is concerned by the actions of the Trump administration. But she views his presidency as a wake-up call. “There’s a massive issue in this country, and we’ve got to speak up,” she says. “We’re having a mockery made of our system.”

Moretz was born in Atlanta. When she was five, her family moved to New York City for her older brother Trevor’s acting career, and she caught the bug through osmosis. By six, she landed her first role in a remake of “The Amityville Horror,” starring Ryan Reynolds. “From then on, it was two to three movies per year, so it was this thing that cosmically just came to me,” she says.

Moretz’s dad walked out when she was 12. She hasn’t forgiven him, but the painful divorce brought her closer with her four older brothers. She currently lives with Trevor, who doubles as her producing partner, her mom and their five dogs in a Los Angeles home she bought for her family. Two of her other brothers are also part of her work entourage: Brandon (her manager) and Colin (a writer and her assistant).

“Even if you’re being paid equally, it’s the little things, especially if the male lead is bigger than you. you aren’t listened to as much, and you take a backseat.”
Chloë Grace Moretz

“They’ve all helped me stay true to who I am,” she says. “Whenever I date someone, I’m like, it’s family first, my career second and you third. That’s just the way it is, and I’m sorry.”

Like most young women in Hollywood, Moretz has experienced her fair share of sexism. Moretz’s brothers were there for her during one of her toughest times as a young actress — she was fat-shamed on the set of one of her movies by a male co-star.

“This guy that was my love interest was like, ‘I’d never date you in real life,’ and I was like, ‘What?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, you’re too big for me’ — as in my size,” says Moretz. “It was one of the only actors that ever made me cry on set.” She opts not to reveal her co-star’s identity, only to say she was 15 at the time and he was in his mid-20s.

After she left set that day, she collapsed into tears. “It just makes you realize that there are some really bad people out there, and for some reason, he felt the need to say that to me.”

When asked if she’s ever been paid less than her male co-stars, Moretz replies, “Even if you’re being paid equally, it’s the little things, especially if the male lead is bigger than you. You aren’t listened to as much, and you take a backseat.”

Chloë Grace Moretz at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (left) and in “Kick-Ass” with Aaron Taylor-Johnson (top) and “Carrie.” convention: Tannen Maury/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

She also shares a story about how she recently wasn’t considered for a part because of her hair color. “Because I’m blond and there’s another blond in the movie, you can’t cast me?’” she scoffs. “That’s such a masculine way of looking at things.”

Apart from bad behavior on movie sets, Moretz has had to deal with online trolls. After her split with boyfriend Brooklyn Beckham last year, she was viciously attacked. “A lot of mean photos have been made of me with Photoshop, and people have done really nasty memes about me, and just so they know, I’ve seen them all and I don’t find them funny and I don’t find them cute,” she says. “That’s not cool. It’s bullying. And it hurts. I’m not going to deny that.”

Fortunately, Moretz has a tight posse of female friends, including actress Zoey Deutch. “I think there’s an assumption that all actresses are competitive, and maybe some are,” Deutch says. “But Chloë is so supportive almost to a degree that’s unimaginable. She’s about sisterhood.”

After her break from Hollywood, Moretz is back to acting with a vengeance, with four projects slated to come out next year. She also reveals she has plans to make her debut as a director in the not-too-distant future. “There are things I would change in my life,” she says. “But the one thing I wouldn’t change is why I started acting and kept to it.”