Thandiwe Newton Opens Up About The Spelling of Her Name and Overcoming Abuse

The actress' first name has been shortened in every role she’s played.

There’s come a time when you have to set the record straight and that’s exactly what Thandiwe Newton is doing. The Emmy Award-winning actress will now go by the correct spelling of her birth name “Thandiwe” instead of “Thandie” which she has been going by since her first role more than 30 years ago. ‘Thandiwe’ means "beloved" in the Zimbabwean language of Shona.

"That's my name," she explained to British Vogue in her May 2021 cover interview. "It's always been my name. I'm taking back what's mine.

In a revealing interview, Newton spoke candidly about the backlash she endured for coming forward as a victim of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, an entire year before the #MeToo movement rocked Hollywood to its core. The "Westworld" star went as far as firing her publicist, who advised her to keep quiet about her abuse because it was "not good for your reputation” and would eventually ruin her career.

"There's a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16," noting the incident, which Newton told W Magazine had taken place back in June 2016. Newton recalled that a director filmed up her skirt during an audition, and later discovered that he was showing the footage at poker games with his friends.

"He derailed me from myself utterly," she remembered. "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?'''

Despite facing the challenges that come with working in a sexist industry, the British star refused to be silenced and raised her voice calling for pay equal to that of her male colleagues on HBO’s hit show Westworld. "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 sh**. I do think studio heads need to take much more responsibility."

Newton is still standing and is even more committed to her craft and exposing all the injustices against Black women in the industry." The thing I'm most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me," she observed. "And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as 'others', which is what happens when you're the only one."

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.