Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton

Newton at the 10 Downing Street visit in 2010.
Born Melanie Thandiwe Newton
(1972-11-06) 6 November 1972
London, England[1]
Nationality English
Alma mater Downing College, Cambridge
Occupation Actress
Years active 1991–present
Spouse(s) Ol Parker (m. 1998)
Children 3

Melanie Thandiwe "Thandie" Newton[2] (born 6 November 1972) is an English actress.[3][4] She has appeared in several British and American films, and is known for roles such as Linda in The Pursuit of Happyness, Nyah Nordoff-Hall in Mission: Impossible II and Christine in Crash, for which she received a number of awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. As of 2016, she plays the sentient android, the madam Maeve Millay in the HBO science fiction-Western television series Westworld.

Early life

Newton was born in London, England, the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean, and Nick Newton, an English[5] laboratory technician and artist.[6] Her birthplace has been incorrectly reported to be Zambia in some biographies,[7] but she has confirmed in interviews that she was born in London.[8][9] The name "Thandiwe" means "beloved"[10] in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa or siSwati, and "Thandie" is pronounced /ˈtændi/ in English. Newton has said her mother is a Shona princess, though she has offered no evidence supporting this claim.[11]

Regarding her childhood, Newton remarked at a TED conference, "From about the age of 5, 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."[12] Newton was brought up in London and Penzance, Cornwall and studied dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Newton grew up an atheist. Between 1992 and 1995, Newton attended Downing College, Cambridge, where she studied social anthropology. She graduated with a 2:1.[13]

At 16, she began a six-year relationship with the Australian film director John Duigan,[14] who subsequently cast her in the film Flirting, a sequel to Duigan's 1987 film The Year My Voice Broke, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Noah Taylor.


After the film Flirting (1991), Newton played a faithful house slave "Yvette" in the Brad Pitt film Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), which also starred Tom Cruise. Newton next appeared in the Merchant Ivory production of Jefferson in Paris as Sally Hemings, followed by Jonathan Demme's horror drama Beloved (1998), in which she played the title character, a mentally handicapped young woman. The film also starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Newton then starred as Nyah Hall, again opposite Cruise, in Mission: Impossible II. Her next role was in the low-budget film It Was an Accident, written by her husband, screenwriter Ol Parker.[15]

Newton at the 2007 BAFTAs

Between 2003 and 2005, Newton played Makemba "Kem" Likasu, love interest and later wife of Dr. John Carter on the American television series ER. She reprised the role for the series finale in 2009. In 2004, she also appeared in The Chronicles of Riddick and Crash. Newton won a BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actress in 2006 for her role in Crash. She played Chris Gardner's wife, Linda Gardner, in The Pursuit of Happyness. Also in 2006, Newton performed on radio in a pantomime version of Cinderella.[16]

In 2007, Newton co-starred with Eddie Murphy in the comedy Norbit as his love interest, and then opposite Simon Pegg as his ex-girlfriend in the 2008 comedy Run Fatboy Run. Newton next portrayed U.S. National Security Advisor-turned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in W., Oliver Stone's film biography of President George W. Bush. The film was released 17 October 2008.

Newton was an introducer at Wembley Stadium on 7 July 2007, for the UK leg of Live Earth. She was due to introduce Al Gore to the concert, but he was delayed, leaving Newton to tell jokes in an attempt to entertain the audience.[17] Newton next portrayed fictional U.S. First Daughter Laura Wilson in 2012, a disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich and released 13 November 2009.

In July 2011, Newton delivered a TED Talk on "Embracing otherness, embracing myself." She discussed finding her "otherness" as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and as an actress playing many different selves.[18] In 2012, she starred alongside Tyler Perry in the romantic drama film Good Deeds. In 2013, Newton starred in Rogue, the first original drama series for DirecTV's Audience Network.[19] She left Rogue during the third season. In 2015, she starred in the U.S. miniseries The Slap.

In 2016, she performed the character Maeve Millay in HBO's Westworld.

Personal life

Newton married English writer, director, and producer Ol Parker in 1998. They have three children: daughters Ripley (b. 2000) and Nico (b. 2004), and son Booker Jombe (b. 2014).[20] Her daughters were named after the character Ellen Ripley in the Alien films and the singer Nico.[21] Newton had home births with all three of her children.[20] She is vegan and was named PETA's "Sexiest Vegan of 2014" in the UK.[22]

In 2006 Newton contributed a foreword to We Wish: Hopes and Dreams of Cornwall's Children, a book of children's writing published in aid of the NSPCC. In it, she wrote vividly about her childhood memories of growing up in Cornwall, and the way in which the county's vibrant cultural heritage made it easy for her to "enrich every situation with layers of magic and meaning."[23]

In 2007 Newton sold her near-new BMW X5 and replaced it with a Toyota Prius after Greenpeace stuck a "This gas-guzzling 4x4 is causing climate change" sticker on her BMW.[24] In 2008 Newton visited poverty-stricken Mali, describing it as a "humbling experience." She visited the village of Nampasso in the Ségou Region of the country.[25] In 2013 Newton led the One Billion Rising flash mob in London, for an end to violence, and for justice and gender equality.[26]

David Schwimmer (who directed Run Fatboy Run) called the actress "the queen of practical jokes."[27] Newton has expressed an affinity for Buddhism.[28][29]

In 2016, Newton stated she was the victim of a director who repeatedly showed a video to his friends of her in a sexually-graphic audition which dated to her teenage years.[30]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Flirting Thandiwe Adjewa
1993 Young Americans, TheThe Young Americans Rachael Stevens
1994 Loaded Zita
1994 Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles Yvette
1995 Jefferson in Paris Sally Hemings
1995 The Journey of August King Annalees
1996 Leading Man, TheThe Leading Man Hilary Rule
1997 Gridlock'd Barbara "Cookie" Cook
1998 Besieged Shandurai Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
1998 Beloved Beloved Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
2000 Mission: Impossible II Nyah Nordoff-Hall Nominated – Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favourite Female - Newcomer
Nominated – Empire Award for Best British Actress
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
2000 It Was an Accident Noreen Hurlock
2002 Truth About Charlie, TheThe Truth About Charlie Regina Lambert Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
2003 Shade Tiffany
2004 Chronicles of Riddick, TheThe Chronicles of Riddick Dame Vaako
2004 Crash Christine BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Empire Award for Best Actress
Hollywood Film Festival Award for Ensemble of the Year
London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the Year
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – BET Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2006 The Interrogation of Leo and Lisa The Mona Lisa Short film
2006 Pursuit of Happyness, TheThe Pursuit of Happyness Linda Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2007 Norbit Kate Thomas
2007 Run Fatboy Run Libby
2008 RocknRolla Stella
2008 How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Herself
2008 W. Condoleezza Rice
2009 2012 Laura Wilson
2010 Huge Kris
2010 Vanishing on 7th Street Rosemary
2010 For Colored Girls Tangie Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
2011 Retreat Kate
2012 Good Deeds Lindsey Wakefield
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Olanna
2017 American Express Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Pirate Prince Becky Newton Television film
1997 In Your Dreams Clare Television film
2003–09 ER Makemba "Kem" Likasu
2006 American Dad! Makeva Episode: "Camp Refoogee"
2013–15 Rogue Grace Travis TV series
2015 The Slap Aisha TV series
2016–present Westworld Maeve Millay TV series
Pending – Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2017)


  2. "Famous Downing College Alumni - Downing College". 2015-08-25. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  3. Graydon, Nicola; "Thandie Newton on becoming Condoleezza Rice" The Times (London), 7 September 2008
  4. Carty, Ciaran; "When Thandie met Condi", 21 September 2008
  5. Barton, Laura; "'I was so incredibly self-conscious'", 28 May 2008
  6. Lewis, Sian; "Thandie Newton: 'Condi was my hardest role ever'", 31 October 2008
  7. "Thandie Newton Biography" Yahoo! Movies
  8. Williams, Kam; "Sweet as Thandie", 24 March 2008
  9. A Taste of My Life, Series 4 (BBC Two, 4 June 2008) Thandie Newton – Quote: "Nigel Slater (host): You were born in London but you didn't stay here for long did you? You went down to Cornwall? Thandie Newton (answers): Actually I don't know how my mum and dad managed to do this. But we lived in Zambia, and my mum was pregnant with me. And I was born on a two-week trip back to London, and then we went back to Zambia and my brother was born there. And we ended up coming to England finally when I was three years old. So my dad could help out with the family antique business."
  10. "Thandiwe | Name Meaning & Origin | Boy or Girl Name Thandiwe | Baby Names World". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  11. Sullivan, Chris; "Why Newton favours gravity over fluff", 5 October 2006
  12. "Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself". July 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  13. "News and Events: Downing alumna Thandie Newton wins BAFTA award"
  14. The Daily Mail (3 June 2011). "Thandie Newton's affair at 16 with film director 23 years older than her". London. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  15. Thandie's Mission, Evening Standard, she also starred in the Guy Ritchie film "Rock n' Rolla" as a michivious accountant. 22 July 2005. Quote: ...but turned down the Lucy Liu role in Charlie's Angels in favour of making It Was An Accident, a minor film by her scriptwriter husband Ol Parker.
  16. "Doctor Who poised for radio panto", 15 December 2006
  17. Needham, Alex; "Live Earth: The live blog, part 2", 7 July 2007
  18. Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself, TED, 15 July 2011'
  19. "Rogue to Debut on AUDIENCE Network in April". 7 January 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  20. 1 2 Eggenberger, Nicole (5 March 2014). "Thandie Newton Welcomes Baby Boy Booker Jombe Parker in Home Birth". Us Weekly. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  21. "Thandie Newton Biography". Glamour. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  22. "Thandie Newton named PETA’s sexiest vegan," Toronto Sun 23 December 2014.
  23. "We Wish – Hopes and dreams of Cornwall's children", 30 November 2006.
  24. McLean, Craig; "Telling it like it is", 7 January 2007.
  26. "Thandie newton joins women's protest". CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  27. "Actress Newton admits to pranks", 4 September 2007.
  28. "Buddha Buzz: Mindfulness and Being a Buddhist Woman". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  29. "A Body in Motion: The "For Colored Girls" Interview with Kam Williams". Pittsburgh Urban Media. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  30. W magazine (5 July 2016). "Thandie Newton On Why She's Drawn to Tough Roles". W magazine. Retrieved 28 October 2016.

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