Thandie Newton

On this date in 1972, a film star was born in London. Thandie Newton, a culturally-diverse British woman with a flair for the arts, spent her early days living in Africa and England. Newton’s first days of life began in London after her parents met in a hospital in Zambia. Her mother, a Zimbabwean healthcare worker, and her father, a British lab technician, moved from London back to Zambia after having Newton and remained there until they were forced to seek political refuge. In the UK, Newton pursued a career in dance while attending the University of Cambridge. She earned a degree in Social Anthropology in 1995. An unforeseen back injury prevented her from attaining her dream of becoming a famous dancer. Luckily for Newton, she had another career path on the backburner, acting. Newton’s inaugural camera appearance occurred in 1991, in the Australian film “Flirting." Not long after this breakout performance, she would appear in such notable films as, “Interview with a Vampire” (1994), “Beloved” (1998), “Mission Impossible: II” (2000), “Crash” (2004), “The Pursuit of Happiness” (2006) and “Norbit” (2007). In 2006, Newton received a BAFTA, London Critic Circle Film and Empire award for her outstanding performance in “Crash.” Her portrayal of Condoleezza Rice in the film “W” (2008) has also earned her positive accolades. 

Acting is not Newton’s only passion in life; she is also the face of a world-wide charitable campaign. Volvic, a prominent bottled water company, and World Vision have joined forces to help bring clean drinking water to Africa. Newton’s love for Africa, coupled with her desire to provide aid to those in need, makes her the perfect person to spearhead this project. "I've been to Africa many times," she says, "and also I'm educated about Africa, in terms of just reading about the political situation and colonialism, and how that continent has suffered, but also about how it has endured and survived,” as told to The Guardian (May 27, 2008). 

“I grew up on the coast of England in the 70’s. My dad is white from Cornwall and mum is black from Zimbabwe. Even the idea of us as a family was challenging to most people, but nature had its wicked way and brown babies were born. But, from about the age of five I was aware that I didn’t fit, I was the black atheist kid in the all-white Catholic school run by nuns, I was an anomaly.” 

—Thandie Newton

Compiled by Katie Stenz

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