Emmy Award-winning actress Thandie Newton has decided to reclaim her African roots by going back to her birth name Thandiwe.
The British-born star announced her decision to go back to using the Zulu-inspired name her mother gave her at birth. “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine,” Newton told British Vogue in an interview published over the weekend.
Thandiwe, which means “beloved” in Zulu, was given to her by her Zimbabwe-born mother. Her mother Nyasha worked as a healthcare worker for the Shona tribe with her British-born father Nick Newton working as a lab technician, IMDB reports.
The Mission Impossible II star said the whitewashing of her name started when she was a young student in Catholic school. “Where the W of her name drifted inward, out of sight and earshot, in a futile hope to make her feel less different,” British Vogue notes. Up until her recent announcement, the “W” in her name remained “missed out” from her first profile on IMDB and remained that way for decades. But, as of this writing, a Google search of the For Colored Girls star lists her as “Melanie Thandiwe Newton Parker OBE, formerly credited as Thandie Newton.”
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me,” she shared. “And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one.”
Last year, Newton opened up about the blatant racism she’s experienced while working in Hollywood. “Being Black is important,” she told Vulture. “Because certainly at the beginning of my career, when it was just, like, me and Halle Berry in our age group going up for every role.” She also explained why she shares more photos of her Black mother on Instagram than she does with her white father. “Because I want Black people to feel they can trust me and feel safe with me,” she revealed. “That I’m not a representative of this Establishment that degrades people of color.”