Thandiwe Newton Reclaims Her Birth Name & Recalls Being ‘Derailed’ By Director’s Sexual Misconduct At 16
Thandiwe Newton is taking back her name — and coming to terms with some horrible challenges she’s faced in the past.
The 48-year-old Emmy-winning actress sat down with British Vogue for their May cover story, and in doing so, righted some wrongs done to her identity over the years in the film industry.
The notable change, of course, comes in her name. No longer known as “Thandie,” the London-born actress revealed to the outlet that she’d simply been called that ever since her first credit, which dropped the “w” and made her famous with the incorrect spelling.
Now, she wants to be known as Thandiwe — her birth name, which she reported to the outlet means “beloved” in Shona. The Crash star said (below):
“That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”
More important than the spelling change, though, were Thandiwe’s comments about abuse she faced as a young actress.
The Beloved star first opened up way back in 2016 — a year before the #MeToo Movement took hold — about how she’d been the victim of sexual misconduct. At the time, she tearfully revealed to the world how an unnamed director had allegedly filmed up her skirt during an audition when she was just 16 years old. Later, she learned he was even sharing the video with his friends at poker games. So awful…
Reflecting on having first opened up about that more than five years ago now, the talented thespian told the fashion mag (below):
“There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16. He derailed me from myself utterly. I was traumatized. It was a kind of PTSD for sure. I was so distraught and appalled that a director had abused a young actress, and that it was happening elsewhere, minors getting abused and how f**ked up it was. I was basically waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Well, what shall we do about this?”’
Can’t even imagine having to go through something like that. Especially at 16… Wow… Newton refuses to go down without a fight, though.
In 2018, she and Evan Rachel Wood took the Hollywood pay equity fight public, and challenged producers to salary female stars at the same level as their male counterparts. And while huge strides have been made in that regard, the Westworld alum revealed how times are still tough for women in showbiz:
“It wasn’t a celebration [in 2018]. I was disgusted [that it had come to that]. Even though people know they can speak out now, there is still the fear of losing their job. I mean literally, people still say, ‘There’s someone else who could take this position, if you’re not happy’, that kind of s**t. I do think studio heads need to take much more responsibility.”
Social upheaval aside, though, Thandiwe still finds herself grateful for the changes that keep coming to the entertainment industry:
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me. And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one.”
Well said! Here’s to MUCH more diversity and inclusivity! And here’s to calling Thandiwe by the right name now, too. Finally!!! BTW, if you want to read her full interview with British Vogue, click HERE. But first, scroll down for her cover and spread:
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[Image via Apega/WENN]