Thandiwe Newton has been working in Hollywood for three decades, but now she’s ready to ‘take back’ the correct spelling of her name.
She was credited as ‘Thandie’ in her first role and every role since — until now.
Her name, Thandiwe, means “beloved” in Shona.
“That’s my name,” she told British Vogue in her May 2021 cover interview. “It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”
The actress also opened up about the backlash she faced in 2016, after revealing that she was a victim of sexual misconduct, a year before the #MeToo movement in Hollywood. The British star recalled firing her publicist, who asked her to stop talking about the abuse, because it was “not good for your reputation.”
“There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16,” she said of the incident, which she recounted to W Magazine in June 2016. Newton explained at the time that a director filmed up her skirt during an audition, later finding out that he was showing the video to friends at poker games.
“He derailed me from myself utterly,” she told British Vogue. “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— up it was. I was basically waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Well, what shall we do about this?”’
Newton has previously credited the incident as part of the reason she took her role in HBO’s Westworld, that of a robot who becomes aware of her existence and stokes a rebellion against her creators.
Newton and costar Evan Rachel Wood successfully fought for pay equity with their male counterparts back in 2018. “It wasn’t a celebration. I was disgusted,” she said of the win, which set a long-overdue precedent in the industry.
“Even though people know they can speak out now, there is still the fear of losing their job,” she added. “I mean literally, people still say, ‘There’s someone else who could take this position, if you’re not happy’, that kind of s—. I do think studio heads need to take much more responsibility.”
The Crash star has found a sense of empowerment in the industry, as she continues to fight for equity and inclusivity.
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me,” she said. “And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one.”
It’s never too late to live further in your truth. Salute, Thandiwe.