For over 30 years, Thandiwe Newton has been credited as Thandie Newton — something that came not out of a decision to brand herself as more marketable to Hollywood, but from a misspelling. The “w” was “carelessly missed out from her first credit,” British Vogue reveals in an in-depth profile with the Westworld star, who announced that she is now reclaiming the original spelling of her name.
“That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine,” Newton said in a British Vogue cover story on the award-winning British actress. Newton announced that for all future film and television projects, she will be credited as Thandiwe Newton, the original spelling of her name that only got switched to Thandie due to a misspelling in her first credit, the 1991 feature film Flirting. Thandiwe means “beloved” in Shona.
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me. And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others,’ which is what happens when you’re the only one,” Newton said.
In the profile, Newton reflected on her debut role in Flirting, which was directed by Australian director John Duigan, whom she has made allegations of sexual abuse against since 2011, though her story didn’t gain traction until the #MeToo movement. Newton only recently went into detail about how she — at 16 years old — was coerced into a relationship with Duigan, during a 2020 episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.
“There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16,” Newton told UK Vogue. “He derailed me from myself utterly. 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 fucked up it was. I was basically waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Well, what shall we do about this?'”
In addition to now reclaiming her name, Newton has since gone on to fight for equal pay alongside Evan Rachel Wood on the HBO sci-fi series Westworld, winning their battle against the pay gap with their male costars in Season 3. “It wasn’t a celebration. I was disgusted,” Newton said of the win. “Even though people know they can speak out now, there is still the fear of losing their job. I mean literally, people still say, ‘There’s someone else who could take this position, if you’re not happy’, that kind of shit. I do think studio heads need to take much more responsibility.”
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