Thandiwe Newton is using her real name now, which means ‘beloved’ in Zulu

Thandiwe Newton, whom we got to know as Thandie Newton, has been working steadily since the early 1990s. But “steadily” would downplay the roles that she has taken on since the beginning of her career, most notably in my opinion with Gridlock’d along side Tupac. Thandiwe is starring in HBO’s Westworld which is about to start filming its fourth season. She will also star in Reminiscence, with Hugh Jackman, out this year.

Now Thandiwe is reclaiming her name. While we know her as Thandie, she was born Thandiwe Newton. Thandiwe’s mother was the daughter of a Shona chief from Zimbabwe and her father was a British man from Cornwall. Thandiwe says in a new interview in British Vogue that she silenced the “W” in her name so that she wouldn’t be othered in school. She will now be using her full name as she doesn’t seek to blend in but stand out. Below are a few excerpts from her interview with British Vogue:

On speaking out against abusers
“I have a seventh sense for abuse and abusers, which I believe is one of the reasons why I was rejected a lot in Hollywood. I’ll talk about it until the cows come home, because I know I’ll be helping someone.”

She joined a community of survivors working for change
“When I started joining in I found myself around a lot more people of colour. Isn’t that strange?” Well, because there are so many women of colour who’ve been abused, and who are the spine of their community or the spine of their family. Black women are truly the nexus where all of this overlaps. Think of what else has the potential to heal if we support and care for Black women.”

On protecting her daughter Nico, 16, as she starts her career
“I went to every photoshoot with her. If there was an issue with the photographer, if there was inappropriate language I was on it, didn’t give a f**k what anyone thought. When it was time for her to get an agent, I spent a month auditioning for one, even though I knew half of them.”

On using her real name
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me. And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one.”
“That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”


I’ve been a fan girl of Thandiwe since I first saw her in Mission Impossible II. I just thought she was so beautiful. Since then I have watched her star in several films and shows and was pissed off when she was killed off in Rogue. Thandiwe made the damn show.

It is shocking every time I read that Thandiwe was rejected in Hollywood, but when I look at her film credits, I am not sure why she hasn’t received more awards from such an illustrious career. I do love that she is reclaiming her roots by reclaiming her African name. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to grow up in racist Britain where Thandiwe was basically forced to choose her British side. I also love how Thandiwe says she protects her daughter, Nico, from predators and that SHE auditions her daughter’s talent agent despite knowing them all. That’s some boss level sh*t.

I am loving this more outspoken, not taking anybody’s sh*t Thandiwe. There is something beautiful about a woman who owns her power and is unapologetic about it. Thandiwe is definitely setting the tone for how she wishes to be treated going forward and I am here for it. I am intrigued by her new sci-fi movie, Reminiscence. I just watched the mini trailer and it seems sinister and I love those types of movies (I’ve included the trailer below). I also need to catch up on Westworld because I actually like that show and I loved Thandiwe’s role as the robot prostitute gone rogue. It would seem that in the case of Thandiwe, art is definitely imitating life and I am here for it.

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34 Responses to “Thandiwe Newton is using her real name now, which means ‘beloved’ in Zulu”

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  1. ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    I am here for everything she is saying and doing! Love to see her owning her power… and supporting, respecting, and listening to Black women is one of the biggest keys to healing our country. Black women face the worst mix of misogyny and racism (see also, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex).
    Thandiwe, keep rocking!

  2. Sadiebelle says:

    Ummmm…. Thandiwe is a Shona name, not Zulu. Part of Thandiwe*s history is that her mother is from Zimbabwe, from a prominent Shona family.

    • Celebitchy says:

      This is straight from the article in Vogue:
      “They named her Thandiwe, meaning beloved in Zulu.”
      This is from Oya’s introduction:
      “Thandiwe’s mother was the daughter of a Shona chief from Zimbabwe”

    • Common sense says:

      I am South African and a Motswana and I know for a fact that Thandiwe is a nguni name not Shona. Her mother is Zimbabwean, but she gave her a nguni name. The nguni languages are Ndebele, Swati, Xhosa, and Zulu.

  3. Levans says:

    Happy for her to reclaim her narrative and her name!

  4. Myra says:

    I’ve always loved her and I’m glad she has reclaimed her name. It’s a beautiful name, as well.

  5. Watson says:

    That’s a great name. Love her. Love her outspokenness and her protection of her daughter.

  6. BusyLizzy says:

    Beautiful name for a beautiful woman.

  7. Lauren says:

    Her name is beautiful, it has a beautiful meaning and I love that she has taken it back.

  8. Tulip says:

    She is incredible…. I remember being blown away by her talent and beauty the first time I saw her and I love what she’s doing with her platform now.
    Reminds me of something my sister said recently about someone side-eyeing her for being quote unquote difficult for asking questions …… “I literally am that difficult woman all the time every time and I just don’t care” ….. so cheers to being difficult women and not giving a f* and cheers to Thandiwe

  9. Yup, Me says:

    Good for her. I’ve enjoyed her (and her performances) for many years.

    Can we just take a moment to acknowledge the fact that Thandiwe’s experience is the epitome of the fuckery of white supremacy? Her mother comes from African society – the daughter of a chief – a prominent and respectable lineage and because she grew up surrounded by white folks, she was forced to make choices that centered that side of her identity. And she got goodies for it (as people often do when they play the game with white supremacy) but she was also incredibly harmed by it (as people often are when they play the game with white supremacy).

  10. Common sense says:

    Good for her.
    Interestingly, Thandi without the e is a common nickname for Thandiwe here in South Africa. Most if not all of the Thandiwes I know go by the name Thandi.

    • Frida_K says:

      How to pronounce it? Thandi-way, Thandi-weh, or Thandi-wuh? Is the accent on the penultimate syllable?

      Thank you for your time in explaining. I think it is important to properly pronounce a name, and this is an unfamiliar language to me.

      • Common sense says:

        Thandi-weh is the correct pronunciation. You say it as if there is no h after the T (Tandi-weh), however, in Nguni languages and in my language- Setswana- the h after a T makes a different sound compared to English.

    • Frida_K says:

      How beautiful! Thank you for explaining this to me.

  11. I pet goat 2 says:

    Amazing! Love her

  12. Amanda says:

    Awesome! It’s a really pretty name too.

  13. pottymouth pup says:

    I’m old enough that I remember watching the movie Flirting (sequel to The Year My Voice Broke) and she was one of the stars playing a character named Thandiwe. I think she must have done an interview noting that Thandiwe was her real name because I always knew that but I assumed she changed it for Hollywood, not to avoid school bullying and racism. Glad she’s reclaiming it

    • Normades says:

      Unfortunately this is how she knows abuse. The director groomed her and abused her when she was still in her teens.

      And yes I remember and loved that movie too. One of Nicole Kidman’s first.

  14. Midnight@theOasis says:

    Beautiful name. Glad she’s reclaiming it

  15. Betsy says:

    So is it still pronounced “Thandie” or is the “w” pronounced, like “Than-de-way”? Just so I don’t sound like an ignorant hick the next time I say her name out loud.

    (And my apologies if it’s right in there above; I’m not great at reading comprehension in the morning)

  16. ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

    I also gave myself a nickname to avoid being othered by the WASP clientele at my first job and never went back. Now everyone except my sister calls me by my nickname. Sometimes I think about switching back but professionally everyone has known me by my nickname for 15 years.

  17. Katie says:

    Love her acting work, happy to know her full name

  18. Kate says:

    I went to Wikipedia to see if they had updated already and learned that Thandiwe is her middle name and her first name is Melanie. Had no idea! I’m glad she’s reclaiming her name, although wish she hadn’t “lost” it in the first place.

    • TaraBest says:

      My mom and both of her parents go by their middle names, always have. People are surprised when they learn that what they’ve always called my mom is actually her middle name, but she’s never used her first. I always thought it was just a weird thing my family did (my family also calls me by both my first and middle name) but seems like it’s more common than I thought.

      • Kate says:

        I have no idea how common it is generally, but I also have family and a few friends that go exclusively by their middle names. I do think it is relatively common to go by a middle name when you are XYZ, Jr. or ABC, III to avoid confusion.

      • lucy2 says:

        I know a few people who went by their middle names, usually if they were named after a relative.

        I love that Thandiwe is reclaiming her name and using it professionally.
        Talking about a 16 year old having a career bums me out a little, but it sounds like she is very protective and selective about what her daughter is doing, so I hope it all goes well for her.

  19. SKF says:

    I love her, I’ve always loved her. She is incredibly beautiful, insanely talented and mesmerising to watch. I’m so glad Westworld came along and gave her the chance to really show off her chops again. I want to see her in everything!

    That said, I cannot, for the life of me, understand why she is encouraging Nico to be a child star. She knows how gross and damaging her industry is, how full of predators it is, how awful it was to her. She must know how damaged most child actors are. Why on earth does she want that for her daughter? Even if she is being protective? And why now? Why not let her enjoy her childhood and act as an adult if that’s what she wants? I find that decision very strange.