Thandiwe Newton Is Reclaiming The Correct Spelling Of Her Name

April 5, 2021 / Posted by:

Thandie Newton is Thandie no more. In a new interview with British Vogue, she declares herself Thandiwe Newton, which is the correct spelling of her name. Thandiwe says, “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.” Thandiwe means “beloved” in Shona, a Bantu language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Thandiwe’s mother is the granddaughter of a Shona chief, which makes her, Thandiwe, and her daughters all Zimbabwean princesses.

48-year-old Thandiwe says that all her future films will be credited with the name Thandiwe Newton. She’s already changed her Instagram and Twitter handles, and IMDb made the alteration as well. She also tweeted this explanation of how the W got dropped:

So they used her real name for the character, then when ahead and changed her… real name? UM. They also asked her to “be a bit darker… be darker by Monday” when auditioning for the role. So she spent that weekend “covered in coconut oil and frantically bronzing.” Thandiwe says:

“Got the role. Colourism has just been the funniest. I’ve been too Black, not Black enough. I’m always Black. I’m just like, whadda you people want!”

The movie in question is Flirting, a 1991 film Thandiwe co-starred in with Nicole Kidman. The director in question is John Duigan. Thandiwe has long been vocal about how John preyed on her when she was just 16. He was in his forties:

“There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know,” she says thoughtfully, zoning back in time, eyes hardened, “and it was then, it was 16. He derailed me from myself utterly. I was traumatised. 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**ked up it was. I was basically waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Well, what shall we do about this?’’’

The article continues:

The violations by Duigan lasted five years, two of which were termed a “relationship” after he sought Newton’s parents’ blessing for her to be his girlfriend when she was 18, while asking her to hide their previous intimacy.

If passers-by questioned with their eyes what this older man was doing with this young girl, he would tell her they were being racist, towards her, and she believed him. “It was textbook, really boring textbook.” At 20, Newton managed to free herself and moved into her first flat, there continuing with her anthropology degree at Cambridge and doing two more films with Duigan out of shame and guilt for “abandoning” him.

Long before #metoo, Thandiwe was speaking out about her abuse. She’s become an activist, working with the #sayhername campaign, the City of Joy project, and helped establish One Billion Rising, which campaigns to end violence against women. She says she’s no longer afraid of the red carpet, which had always reminded her of her “invisibility”:

“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.”

Thandiwe tweeted that after reading the Vogue article, her daughter called her the “baddest bitch”:

Whoa. A teenager actually admitting their mother is cool and brave and badass? You did it, Thandiwe. You won.

Here are some more photos from Thandiwe’s British Vogue shoot:

Pic: British Vogue

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