Thandiwe Nashita "Thandie" Newton (born 6 November 1972) is an English actress. She has appeared in a number of British and American films, including The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, Crash, Run, Fatboy, Run and W.
Newton was born in London, the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean health-care worker and Nick Newton, a laboratory technician and artist. Her birthplace has been incorrectly reported to be Zambia in some biographies, but she has confirmed in interviews that she was born in London, during a two-week trip by her parents. The name "Thandiwe" means "beloved" in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa or Swazi, and "Thandie" is pronounced /ˈtændi/ tan-dee in English. According to Newton, her mother is a Zimbabwean Shona princess. Raised in London and Penzance, Cornwall. She studied dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and at sixteen, while recovering from a back injury, she successfully auditioned for her first film role. She then went on to study social anthropology at Downing College, Cambridge, from 1992 to 1995, where she achieved a 2:1.Newton made her film debut in Flirting (1991). While filming she struck up a friendship with Nicole Kidman, now a lifelong friend.
She played the role of Brad Pitt's maid Yvette in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994). She gained international recognition in the Merchant Ivory production of Jefferson in Paris as Sally Hemings, which led to her being cast in Jonathan Demme's Beloved (1998), in which she played the title character with co-stars Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She played the female lead Nyah Hall in the film Mission: Impossible II. She was originally going to play Alex Munday in the film Charlie's Angels, but turned it down to appear in the low-budget film It Was an Accident. Her character ultimately went to Lucy Liu. Between 2003 and 2005, Newton played Makemba "Kem" Likasu, the love interest, and later wife of Dr. John Carter on the American television series ER. She reprised the role once more for the series finale in 2009. In 2004 also appeared in The Chronicles of Riddick and Crash. In the latter, she played Christine Thayer, a wealthy black woman who, along with her husband, finds herself the target of a racist policeman (played by Matt Dillon), who sexually assaults Thayer but then later saves her life after he is the first on the scene at a car crash. Newton was honoured with a BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actress in 2006 for her role in Crash. She also played Chris Gardner's wife, Linda Gardner, in The Pursuit of Happyness.
In addition to her film and television credits she played the title role in a 2006 radio pantomime version of Cinderella. In 2007, she starred with Eddie Murphy in the comedy Norbit as his love interest, and opposite Simon Pegg as his ex-girlfriend in the comedy Run Fat Boy 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 to try and entertain the audience. Newton next portrayed the United States President'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". In it, she discussed finding her "otherness" as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and as an actor playing with many different selves. Newton claims that director John Duigan forced her as a 16-year old into a relationship with him which lasted six years, despite being 23 years her senior. She married English writer/director/producer Ol Parker in 1998. The couple have two daughters: Ripley, born in 2000, and Nico, born in 2004.
Her daughters were named after the character Ellen Ripley in the Alien films and the singer Nico. In 2006, she 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 writes 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". 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. Newton swapped her BMW X5 for a Toyota Prius after protesters bombarded the car with eggs at the gates of her daughters’ school. She then wrote to her celebrity friends, asking them to join her in switching to more environmentally sound cars. Newton has suffered from bulimia. Some of Newton's co-stars have mentioned that she can be a bit of a practical joker. Simon Pegg, for instance, mentioned that she once put cellophane over his toilet whilst shooting Run Fatboy Run, and sewed up the neck and cuffs of his T-shirts. Furthermore, on the special features of the DVD, whilst Simon Pegg is being interviewed, they are interrupted by the fact that Pegg has to change bottles of water – the stock provided was replaced with vodka by Newton. "He is extremely easy to do these things to. I got him, what a sap!" said Newton at the film's London premiere. David Schwimmer (who directed the film) dubbed the actress "the queen of practical jokes".
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