The actress known up until now as Thandie Newton revealed this weekend that her name has been misspelled and mispronounced for over three decades now. In a new interview with British Vogue, she confirmed that her full name is Melanie Thandiwe Newton. She explained that her name was misspelled in the credits of her first film role, but said that now she is done going by the pseudonym for other people's convenience.
Newton's first film role was in Flirting in 1991, and she has gone by "Thandie" for convenience ever since. In her new interview, she confirmed that her name is really Thandiwe, pronounced "tan-DEE-way," which means "beloved" in the Shona Language. She is asking that fans refer to her this way going forward, explaining why she sees clarifications like this as vital to combatting racism on a systemic level.
"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."
"That's my name. It's always been my name. I'm taking back what’s mine," Newton declared. Newton has become one of Hollywood's most outspoken voices for various anti-racist agendas, including the "#SayHerName" campaign following the murder of Breonna Taylor and the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women.
Newton said that she believes actors are well-positioned to champion these causes because "We can make a difference." She is reportedly a board member of Eve Ensler's V-Day — an organization that supports women who have survived sexual violence in Congo. Her charitable work on multiple fronts earned her entry into the Oder of the British Empire (OBE) in 2018.
In her new interview, Newton described her parents' relationship when she was born in the 1970s, explaining that her mother was "a Zimbabwean princess" and her father was "a lab technician from Cornwall." Newton's mother is a member of what anthropologists call "a chiefly family" in Zimbabwe, but she moved to London with Newton's father before she was born.
"I mean holy hell," she said of her out-of-place childhood back in England. "We may as well have been the first Black people anyone had ever seen." Vogue described Newton as "one of the most successful Black-British actresses of her time," which is undeniable. With two Golden Globes, a PrimeTime Emmy and a BAFTA Award under her belt, Newton is still pushing the envelope. Along the way, she is intent on leaving an easier path for Black performers in the future with moves like the switch back to her birth name.