Thandie Newton Biography: In Her Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Thandie Newton is an English actress and philanthropist, best known for her performances in The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission Impossible II and Crash. An acclaimed actress, she has a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She is currently playing a robot sex-worker named Maeve Millay on the new HBO series, Westworld.
Thandie Newton Bio: AGE, EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Newton was born Melanie Thandiwe “Thandie” Newton on November 6, 1972 (Thandie Newton age: 43) in London to Nyasha and Nick Newton. Her mother is Zimbabwean and allegedly a princess of the Shona Tribe, working as a healthcare worker, while her white British father worked as a lab technician and artist. Her name “Thadiwe” means “beloved” in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa or siSwati. She has a brother named Jamie Newton. Her family lived in Zimbabwe until political unrest brought them back to Penzance, Cornwall, England, when Newton was still a small child. Living in Cornwall until the age of eleven and attending an all-white, Catholic school, she has often expressed her early realizations of “otherness.” Her differences were compounded by her atheistic upbringing. Despite this early difficulty fitting in, Newton discovered herself through dance and performance, saying in her TED talk that, ‘I’d literally lose myself. And I was a good dancer… I could be in the movement, in a way that I couldn’t be in real life.’
Newton studied modern dance at London’s Art Educational School (now called the Tring Park School For Performing Arts), until a back injury forced her to retire, leading to pursuits in acting. She had her first major film role in 1991, playing African student Thandiwe Adjewa in John Duigan’s Flirting. Newton had already been in a six-year relationship with the director at the time. After filming Flirting, Newton moved to Los Angeles to pursue further opportunities, but her accent limited the roles available to her. Wanting to further her education, she studied social anthropology at Downing College, Cambridge, between 1992 and 1995. She graduated with a 2:1 or Upper Second Class Honors, the second highest honors classification in the UK system.
Thandie Newton Bio: ACTING CAREER
Her acting career is a noticeable mix between big blockbusters and hard-hitting dramas. Newton continued to act in between classes while at Cambridge, and was cast as slave “Yvette” in 1994’s Interview With A Vampire, acting alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. She would then appear in a breakout role as slave Sally Hemmings, with whom Thomas Jefferson had a forty-year romantic relationship, in the historical drama, Jefferson In Paris. It was the first portrayal of Sally Hemmings in film. Continuing with slavery themes, Newton took on the eponymous role in the 1998 horror-drama Beloved, playing a mentally handicapped woman in the care of a former slave haunted by poltergeists. She performed alongside Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
Newton would team up with Cruise again for a bigger role in the 2000 sequel, Mission Impossible: II, as Cruise’s love interest, Nyah Hall. Not a stranger to action movies, a comparable role would later come as Dame Vaako in the 2004 film The Chronicles of Riddick. Following her relationship with writer-director Ol Parker, she appeared in the low-budget film, It Was An Accident.
Newton was nominated and won her first BAFTA award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for the movie Crash in 2004. An interweaving story of vignettes tracing loss, race, and redemption, she played Christine Thayer, a victim of unjust police treatment. Her performance also won her a London Critics Circle Film Award and Screen Actors Guild Award. That same year, she starred alongside Will Smith as Chris Gardner’s wife in The Pursuit of Happyness.
In 2007 and early 2008, Newton took a break from dramas to star in the Eddie Murphy comedy Norbit, and Simon Pegg’s Run Fatboy Run.
Newton returned to her dramatic roots with a turn as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic, W. In between working with Stone and completing work on the apocalypse-themed thriller, 2012, Newton played Tangie Adrose in the 2010 film adaptation of the play For Colored Girls.
Having to replace Mariah Carey in the role on very short notice, Newton confessed to uInterview that she actually preferred the lack of preparation. “I find that if I have quite a long time to prepare for a role, 50 percent of that time is spent freaking out, losing weight, and just in angst,” she said. “So having two days to gather my things, it meant that I had to wing it, and I had to use my instinct more than anything else, which is ultimately what you need to use anyway, you know.”
She has increasingly appeared on television shows since her guest appearances between 2003-2005 on the hit drama ER, playing Dr. John Carter’s love interest, Makemba “Kem” Likasu. Newton had a leading role in DirecTV’s first original drama Rogue, playing police officer Grace Travis from 2013-2015. Following a role on the mini-series The Slap in 2015, Newton now has a leading role on the new HBO sci-fi drama, Westworld.
Thandie Newton Bio: PERSONAL LIFE, HUSBAND, KIDS
Newton married Ol Parker in 1998. They have three children, Ripley, Nico, and Booker Jombe. She returned to work on Westworld just five months after having Booker, who was born in 2016.
She involves herself frequently with philanthropic work, replacing her BMW X5 with a Prius after Greenpeace stuck a “This gas-guzzling 4×4 is causing climate change,” onto her actual vehicle. She has also frequently visited poverty-stricken Mali and led the London One Billion Rising (an event to raise awareness of sexual violence against women) flash mob in 2013.
Newton has revealed–for the sake of helping other women—that she was the victim of sexual assault by a director while a teenager. In an interview with W Magazine, Netwon said, “A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my t— and think about the guy making love to me in the scene. I thought, ‘Ok, this is a little weird,’ but there was a female casting director in the room and I’d done weird stuff before so I did it.”
She is a vegan and has recently expressed an affinity for Buddhism. In 2002, she ranked #48 in Stuff magazine’s “102 Sexiest Women in the World.”
Check out in our uInterview Thandie and Tessa Thompson: