In a new interview with British Vogue, Thandiwe Newton introduces the world to the “w” that was “carelessly” dropped from her first acting credit, and perpetuated throughout her professional career ever since. “That’s my name,” the Westworld actress says. “It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.” Writes Vogue, Thandiwe means “beloved” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe, where Newton’s mother is from. On all future projects, Newton will reportedly be credited using the correct spelling of her name.
The actress, born Melanie Thandiwe Newton Parker, also reveals that her decision to speak publicly about her experience with sexual harassment and misconduct in the film industry, including being groomed by Flirting director John Duigan as a teenager, hasn’t been without backlash, at one point prompting Newton to fire a publicist “who begged her to stop talking about being sexually abused because it was ‘not good for your reputation.’”
“There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16,” says Newton. “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?’’’
The God’s Country actress also reflected on the recent push for female co-stars to receive commensurate pay for the same work as their male counterparts, as happened with herself and Westworld co-star Evan Rachel Wood back in 2018. “It wasn’t a celebration. I was disgusted,” recalls Newton. “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.”