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Thandiwe Newton

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Thandiwe Newton
Newton at San Diego Comic-Con, July 2019
Melanie Thandiwe Newton

(1972-11-06) 6 November 1972 (age 51)
Westminster, London, England
Other namesThandie Newton
EducationDowning College, Cambridge (BA)
Years active1989–present
(m. 1998; sep. 2022)
Children3, including Nico Parker and Ripley Parker

Melanie Thandiwe Newton OBE (/ˈtændw/ TAN-dee-way;[1] born 6 November 1972), formerly credited as Thandie Newton (/ˈtændi/ TAN-dee), is a British actress. She has received various awards, including a Primetime Emmy Award, and a BAFTA Award, in addition to nominations for two Golden Globe Awards. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to film and charity.[2]

Newton is known for starring roles such as the title character in Beloved (1998), Nyah Nordoff-Hall in Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), Tiffany in Shade (2003), Dame Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Christine in Crash (2004), Linda in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Libby in Run Fatboy Run (2007), Stella in RocknRolla (2008), Condoleezza Rice in W. (2008), Laura Wilson in 2012 (2009), Tangie Adrose in For Colored Girls (2010), Maeve Millay in Westworld (2016–2022), Roz Huntley in Line of Duty (2017), and Val in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).

Early life[edit]

Melanie Thandiwe Newton was born in the Westminster area of London on 6 November 1972, the daughter of Zimbabwean mother Nyasha Jombe and English father Nick Newton.[3][4] Her mother was a member of a Shona chieftaincy family,[3][4] while her father worked as a laboratory technician and artist.[5] Her parents lived in Zambia, and she was born whilst they were in England to visit relatives; they then returned to Zambia, where her younger brother was later born.[6][7] This has led her birthplace to be incorrectly reported as Zambia in some sources,[8] but she has confirmed in interviews that she was born in Westminster.[9][10] "Thandiwe" is a name of Nguni origin and means "beloved".[11][12]

When Newton was three years old, she returned with her family to England, where they settled in Penzance so her father could help run his family's antique business.[6] She attended St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School.[13] She later said of her upbringing, "From about the age of five, 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."[14] She began dropping the letter "w" from her middle name, making it "Thandie" (pronounced /ˈtændi/ TAN-dee).[3][4] She studied dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, then studied at Downing College, Cambridge, where she obtained a degree in social anthropology in 1995.[15]


Newton in 2007

Newton made her film debut in the coming of age comedy-drama Flirting (1991), filmed in 1989 but shelved for two years. She was credited as "Thandie Newton" and subsequently continued to use this name professionally.[3][10] She then portrayed the slave "Yvette" in the Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise film Interview with the Vampire (1994). Newton appeared in the Merchant Ivory production of Jefferson in Paris as Sally Hemings. Next, she played in Jonathan Demme's drama Beloved (1998), based on Toni Morrison's novel, in which she played the title character, the ghost of a young slave girl whose mother kills her to save her from slavery. The film also starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Newton starred as Nyah Nordoff-Hall, again opposite Cruise, in Mission: Impossible 2. Her next role was in the low-budget film It Was an Accident, written by her husband, screenwriter Ol Parker.[16]

Newton in 2010

Between 2003 and 2005, Newton played Makemba "Kem" Likasu, love interest of 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. She 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.[17]

In 2007, Newton co-starred with Eddie Murphy as his love interest in the comedy Norbit. She played opposite Simon Pegg as his ex-girlfriend in the 2007 comedy Run Fatboy Run. She next portrayed Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State in W., Oliver Stone's biography of President George W. Bush. The film was released in 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 former US Vice President Al Gore to the concert, but he was delayed, leaving Newton to tell jokes in an attempt to entertain the audience.[18] Newton next portrayed fictional US 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.[19] In 2012, she starred alongside Tyler Perry in the romantic drama film Good Deeds. She was also in Perry's movie For Colored Girls (2010), adapted from Ntozake Shange's 1975 original choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. In 2013, Newton starred in Rogue, the first original drama series for DirecTV's Audience Network.[20] She left Rogue during the third season. In 2015, she starred in the US miniseries The Slap.

From 2016 to 2022, Newton portrayed Maeve Millay in HBO science fiction drama series Westworld, for which she garnered universal acclaim. She received several accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (out of three nominations), two Critics’ Choice Awards, and nominations for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. James White for Empire lauded Newton's performance, saying: "Thandie Newton is killing these emotional moments, giving Maeve a twitchy, panicked air without ever overplaying it and really helping us to feel for her." [21] William Goodman for Complex wrote: "Westworld becomes the Thandie Newton show, which benefits everyone involved; she’s consistently electric, and the series gives her no shortage of fun things to do."[22]

In 2017, she served as a narrator for the documentary entitled Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon, an exposé on the sexual assault charges laid against Cosby, which aired on BBC One. In the same year, Newton played DCI Roseanne "Roz" Huntley in the fourth season of BBC One's Line of Duty, a role for which she received a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actress.

Newton appeared as Val in the Star Wars film Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was released in May 2018 to generally favorable reviews but bombed at the box office with a worldwide gross of $393.2 million.[23] Newton became the first black woman to have a major non-alien role in a Star Wars film; however, she expressed disappointment in the role as the fate of the character was changed during filming and found it to be a mistake for the franchise in the sense of what it meant for black women in the franchise.[24] Additionally, Scott Mendelson for Forbes felt that Newton was "underutilized" and David Edelstein for Vulture wrote in praise of her performance: "The only thing wrong with Thandie Newton’s performance is that there’s not enough of it."[25][26]

In a 2021 interview, Newton announced that she would be changing her first name back to its original form "Thandiwe",[27] and would be credited as such beginning with Reminiscence (2021). She also said that she would attempt to have corrections applied to her past performance credits.[3]

In 2022, Newton played the lead role of Sandra Guidry in the thriller God’s Country which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. For her performance in the film, she received a nomination for Outstanding Lead Performance at the Gotham Awards.[28]

Charity work[edit]

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 about her childhood memories of growing up in Cornwall, and the way in which its cultural heritage made it easy for her to "enrich every situation with layers of magic and meaning".[29]

In 2008, Newton visited the poverty-stricken village of Nampasso in Mali, describing it as a "humbling experience".[30]

In 2013, Newton led the One Billion Rising flash mob in London for justice, gender equality, and an end to violence.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Newton married English filmmaker Ol Parker in 1998. They separated in 2022.[32][33] They have two daughters, Ripley (born 2000) and Nico (born 2004), and a son, Booker (born 2014). All three were home births.[34] Nico is also an actress. Newton has been close friends with Nicole Kidman since 1989.[35] Newton is currently in a relationship with American musician Elijah Dias, better known by his stage name Lonr, who is 24 years younger than she.[36][37]

Newton is a vegan and was named PETA's "Sexiest Vegan of 2014" in the UK.[38] In 2007, after Greenpeace members put a sticker that said "this gas-guzzling 4x4 is causing climate change" on the BMW X5 she had only recently purchased, she sold the car and bought a Toyota Prius.[39] She has expressed an affinity for Buddhism.[40][41] David Schwimmer, who directed Run Fatboy Run, called her "the queen of practical jokes" for her behaviour on film sets.[42]

In 2016, Newton stated she had been the victim of a director who repeatedly showed his friends a video of her in a sexually graphic audition she had made as a teenager.[43][44] She cited this experience as part of why she had taken the Westworld role, which involved substantial nudity and reflected experiences of survivors of sexual abuse while also asking moral questions about what it means to be human.[44] In 2018, she said she was disappointed not to have been invited to participate in Time's Up, a movement against sexual harassment, considering that she had been "ostracised" for having spoken out about alleged sexual abuse by a director.[45]

Newton was ranked one of the best-dressed women in 2018 by fashion website Net-a-Porter.[46] Later that year, she was named as one of the 100 most influential black British people in the Powerlist.[47]

In 2020, Newton was one of a number of celebrities and MPs who signed a letter opposing the deportation of 50 convicted offenders from the UK to Jamaica.[48]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Flirting Thandiwe Adjewa
1993 The Young Americans Rachael Stevens
1994 Loaded Zita
Interview with the Vampire Yvette
1995 Jefferson in Paris Sally Hemings
The Journey of August King Annalees Williamsburg
1996 The Leading Man Hilary Rule
1997 Gridlock'd Barbara "Cookie" Cook
1998 Besieged Shandurai Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
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 2 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
It Was an Accident Noreen Hurlock
2002 The 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 The Chronicles of Riddick Dame Vaako
Crash Christine Thayer 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 Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2006 The Pursuit of Happyness Linda Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2007 Norbit Kate Thomas
Run Fatboy Run Libby
2008 RocknRolla Stella
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Herself
W. Condoleezza Rice
2009 2012 Laura Wilson
2010 Huge Kris
Vanishing on 7th Street Rosemary
For Colored Girls Tangie Adrose Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Actress
2011 Retreat Kate Kennedy
2012 Good Deeds Lindsey Wakefield
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Olanna
2018 Gringo Bonnie Soyinka
Solo: A Star Wars Story Val
The Death & Life of John F. Donovan Audrey Newhouse
2021 Reminiscence Emily "Watts" Sanders
2022 God's Country Sandra Guidry
All the Old Knives Celia Harrison
2023 Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Ginger (voice) Replacing Julia Sawalha
2024 Mufasa: The Lion King Eshe (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Pirate Prince Becky Newton Television film
1997 In Your Dreams Clare Television film
2003–2009 ER Makemba "Kem" Likasu Recurring role
2006 American Dad! Makeva (voice) Episode: "Camp Refoogee"
2013–2015 Rogue Grace Travis Main role
2015 The Slap Aisha Main role
2016–2022 Westworld Maeve Millay Main role
Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2016, 2018)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2018)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2016, 2018)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2017, 2020)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2016)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2016)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television (2016)
2017 Line of Duty DCI Roseanne "Roz" Huntley Main role
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
2018 The Big Narstie Show Herself Season 1, Episode 2
2019–present Big Mouth Mona the Hormone Monstress (voice) Recurring role; 12 episodes
2020 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself 2 episodes (season 12: "You Don't Know Me"): guest judge
2022–2023 Human Resources Mona the Hormone Monstress (voice) Recurring role
2025 Wednesday Dr. Fairburn Season 2; guest role

Music video[edit]

Year Artist Song Ref.
2017 Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé "Family Feud"


  1. ^ Gonda, Violet (24 June 2021). "The Hot Seat with Violet Gonda. Thandiwe Newton". YouTube. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  2. ^ "New Year Honours List 2019". The London Gazette. 29 December 2018. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Evans, Diana (4 April 2021). ""I'm Taking Back What's Mine": The Many Lives of Thandiwe Newton". Vogue. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Thandie Newton". aalbc.com. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  5. ^ Barton, Laura; "'I was so incredibly self-conscious'" Archived 4 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, 28 May 2008.
  6. ^ a b 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."
  7. ^ Lewis, Sian; "Thandie Newton: 'Condi was my hardest role ever'" Archived 29 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Independent.co.uk, 31 October 2008.
  8. ^ "Thandie Newton Biography" Archived 21 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine Yahoo! Movies.
  9. ^ Williams, Kam; "Sweet as Thandie" Archived 20 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine KamWilliams.com, 24 March 2008.
  10. ^ a b Gonda, Violet (1 July 2021). "Thandiwe Newton on reclaiming her identity". Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  11. ^ Simelane Kalumba, Phumzile (2018). Jublani Means Rejoice: A Dictionary of South African Names (2nd ed.). Modjaji. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-928215-49-3.
  12. ^ Campbell, Lucy (5 April 2021). "Actor Thandiwe Newton reclaims original spelling of her name". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2021. Thandiwe means 'beloved' in the Zulu, Ndebele and Xhosa languages. [...] This article was amended on 5 April 2021 to remove an incorrect phrase saying 'Thandiwe means "beloved" in the Shona language'.
  13. ^ Hards, Shannon (27 February 2019). "Thandie Newton was denied school photo in Cornwall because her hair was in corn-rows". Cornwalllive.com. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself". Ted.com. July 2011. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Downing alumna Thandie Newton wins BAFTA award". Dow.Cam.ac.uk. Downing College. Archived from the original on 22 January 2010.
  16. ^ Thandie's Mission, Evening Standard, she also starred in the Guy Ritchie film Rock n' Rolla as a michievous 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."
  17. ^ "Doctor Who poised for radio panto" Archived 7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine News.BBC.co.uk, 15 December 2006.
  18. ^ Needham, Alex; "Live Earth: The live blog, part 2" Archived 24 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian, 7 July 2007.
  19. ^ "Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself". TED. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Rogue to Debut on AUDIENCE Network in April". directv.com. 7 January 2013. Archived from the original on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  21. ^ White, James (23 October 2016). "Westworld: Season 1, Episode 4 – Dissonance Theory Review". Empire. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  22. ^ Goodman, William (24 June 2022). "'Westworld' Bounces Back With Season 4". Complex. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  23. ^ "Solo: A Star Wars Story". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Archived from the original on 24 February 2021. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  24. ^ Feldberg, Isaac (25 August 2021). "Thandiwe Newton Speaks Out on Her Star Wars Death: 'A Big Mistake'". Inverse. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  25. ^ Mendelson, Scott (15 May 2018). "'Solo' Review: A 'Star Wars' Story That Plays Like An 'Indiana Jones' Movie". Forbes. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  26. ^ Edelstein, David (24 May 2018). "Solo: A Star Wars Story Hits All Its Marks — Except for the Most Important One". Vulture. Vox Media. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  27. ^ "Thandie Newton reverts to original spelling of first name, Thandiwe". BBC News. 5 April 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  28. ^ Mandinach, Zach (25 October 2022). "2022 Gotham Awards Nominations Full List". TheGotham.org. The Gotham Film & Media Institute. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  29. ^ "We Wish – Hopes and dreams of Cornwall's children". WeWish.org.uk. 30 November 2006. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006.
  30. ^ "Thandie Newton humbled by Mali trip". Contact Music. 4 February 2009. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  31. ^ "Thandie Newton joins women's protest". CNN. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  32. ^ Todisco, Eric (20 April 2022). "Thandiwe Newton's Husband Spotted Without Wedding Ring Amidst Split Rumors: Photo". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  33. ^ Zeller, Terry (30 July 2022). "Thandiwe Newton & Ex Ol Parker Reunite In 1st Photos Since Split & Her PDA With BF Lonr". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  34. ^ Eggenberger, Nicole (5 March 2014). "Thandie Newton welcomes baby boy Booker Jombe Parker in home birth". Us Weekly. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  35. ^ "Thandie Newton is Finally Ready to Speak Her Mind". 7 July 2020.
  36. ^ Zeller, Terry (24 April 2022). "Thandiwe Newton, 49, Seen Kissing Musician Lonr, 25, Amid Split Rumors From Husband: Photos". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  37. ^ Zeller, Terry (27 May 2022). "Thandiwe Newton, 49, Enjoys Sushi Date With BF Lonr, 25, After Split From Husband". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  38. ^ "Thandie Newton named PETA's sexiest vegan". Toronto Sun. 23 December 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  39. ^ McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "Telling it like it is". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007.
  40. ^ "Buddha Buzz: Mindfulness and Being a Buddhist Woman". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  41. ^ "A Body in Motion: The For Colored Girls Interview with Kam Williams". Pittsburgh Urban Media. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  42. ^ "Actress Newton admits to pranks". BBC News Online. 4 September 2007. Archived from the original on 3 February 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  43. ^ "Thandie Newton on Why She's Drawn to Tough Roles". W magazine. 5 July 2016. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  44. ^ a b Nededog, Jethro (2 October 2016). "Westworld star Thandie Newton defends her decision to play a brothel madam". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  45. ^ Oppenheim, Maya (25 April 2018). "Thandie Newton explains why she thinks the Time's Up movement didn't want her involved". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  46. ^ "Best Dressed 2018". Net a. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  47. ^ Hicks, Amber (23 October 2018). "List of 100 most influential black people includes Meghan Markle for first time". mirror. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  48. ^ Taylor, Diane (27 November 2020). "Black public figures urge airlines not to carry out Home Office deportation". TheGuardian.com.

External links[edit]