Date of Birth: November 6, 1972
Thandiwe (later just Thandie) Newton was born in Zambia to a Zimbabwean mother and a British father. When she was young, political unrest in her native country caused her family to flee to England. The family (including one brother) established themselves in the Cornwall area of England along the south coast, where Newton lived until she was 11.
Newton had long harbored an interest in performance -- dance in particular. And so it was at this tender age that she enrolled in London's Art Education School. While there, she studied modern dance and took quite a liking to it. Unfortunately, an injury at age 16 ended any dreams she had of ever pursuing a career in the field.
It was while a student at a private school in North London that the actress met Australian director John Duigan, who was casting his coming-of-age tale Flirting (1991). Newton won a leading role as the smart, worldly girlfriend of the film's protagonist and starred alongside a then relatively unknown Nicole Kidman.
Moving to L.A., Newton continued to pursue an acting career, but found that her accent was often holding her back. Being a Brit is fine, being black is fine, but being a black Brit was not, apparently... In any case, Newton weathered the storm. She returned to England and studied Anthropology at Cambridge.
Newton's next film of significance was 1994's Interview With the Vampire, in which she had a minor role that, ironically enough, called for her to be killed off by Kidman's husband, Tom Cruise. The same year Newton joined the ensemble cast in Loaded, a fairly obscure film directed by Anna Campion, sister of The Piano's Jane. She was then reunited with Flirting director Duigan in 1995 for
The Journey of August King, a little-seen feature in which she starred with Jason Patric.
The year 1998 proved to be a good year for Newton. First, she married screenwriter/director Oliver Parker, whom she met while working on a BBC tele-drama. Next, she was cast in two important filmsBesieged, a film by world-renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci, and Beloved, the much-anticipated movie version of Toni Morrison's acclaimed novel, also starring Oprah Winfrey. While neither film was tremendously successful at the box office, they offered an ideal showcase for Newton's remarkable talent.
This, along with a coveted spot on the April 1999 cover of Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood Issue, further cemented Newton's well-deserved status as one of the industry's latest forces to be reckoned with.
When casting for the Charlie's Angels movie was underway, Newton's name kept being mentioned. Despite not having much commercial success on her record, the producers clearly believed in her talent. In the end, a delayed shoot for Mission: Impossible 2 ruined Newton's chances of being an Angel, but the mere fact of being considered demonstrates just how far Thandie has come.
In 2003 she joined the cast of the hit medical series, ER, before returning to the big screen opposite Will Smith in
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). She also played a role in the movie For Colored Girls, based on the Tony Award-winning play.
Newton has two daughters, Ripley and Nico, with her husband.