Charlize Theron teaches her kids: ‘You have to work harder than anybody else’

Charlize Theron covers the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar. It’s a great interview with the now 47-year-old actress and producer. Her 40s have been so fruitful professionally – she’s really hit her stride as a producer, and she’s making the kinds of movies she wants to make on her terms. She also has big Hollywood friends who send her scripts and come to her parties, because apparently she’s very good at partying. She’s currently promoting The School for Good and Evil (on Netflix) which is based on the children’s book series. She’s gotten to the point in her life where she wants to make stuff her kids can watch too. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

She hates feeling powerless: “Having absolutely no control over what you’re wearing is a big one that really f–king annoyed me for years. Having some guy make you have a fitting almost in front of them—stuff like that, it’s really belittling. When I started, there was no conversation around it. It was like, ‘This is what you’re wearing.’ And I remember one movie in particular, this male director who just kept bringing me in, fitting after fitting after fitting after … And it was just so obvious that it was to do with my sexuality and how f–kable they could make me in the movie. And when I started out, that was just kind of the norm.”

Being a South African and raising her kids in America: “I didn’t grow up in America, so I always find myself kind of trying to keep my head above water with the school system and exams, because it’s not familiar to me. My education was just so different than what my kids are having in America. And so there are a lot of bells and whistles that come with being a parent that I didn’t grow up with.” Theron mentions a particular mom friend who will always text her and remind her if there’s a special dress-up day at school. “I’m so lucky that I have this amazing village of women taking me in under their wing. I know it’s not just a single-mom thing. We just look after each other.”

She wants her kids to be aware of the world: “Growing up in South Africa, being for many years at the epicenter of what was a global political issue and having all of that turmoil around me, I think made me very aware that everything was so interconnected… I want [my children] to always be curious—curious about how other people live, where other people live. Because I think the greatest gift I can give them as a parent is to open their eyes to outside of their bubble.”

The loud bitch: “The majority of my 20s and my 30s, and just the way I was raised, was very much … it was a time where you had to be a loud bitch to just find some space in the room. I don’t necessarily really like being that person but there was definitely a time in my life where that was the only way I knew how to function. I have learned that sometimes you have to know how effective you are as a messenger. Just climbing on a mountain and screaming into the abyss is maybe not the best way to change hearts and minds or to have people find empathy.”

She gets emotional about school shootings: “I can so gracefully talk about slowing down, don’t be reactive but there’s a part of me that I think if I was one of those parents, I would not be as gracious as a lot of them have been.”

She hasn’t been in a relationship in a while: “During Covid, somebody was interested in doing this thing with me. It was just a deep dive into a relationship. And I was just like, I don’t know if I wanna. … I just feel so out of practice.”

She wants to show her kids that she works: “I think that’s more important than fame or anything like that. I saw my mom work hard, and I remember just my whole life thinking, nothing is going to get handed. You have to work harder than anybody else in the room.”

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

Women – moms – don’t talk about that enough, I think, that they want to show their kids that mommy has a job, that everyone works and that you can be passionate about work and you can love your job and love your kids. Too many celebrity moms reinforce the idea that “going back to work” will somehow damage their children. I’ve also never really thought about the more minor culture shock Charlize must have as a South African, navigating American schools and American mom-culture. I bet August and Jackson go to fancy LA schools too, where parents are supposed to participate constantly and all of that. Ugh. Glad it’s not me!

Cover & IG courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

17 Responses to “Charlize Theron teaches her kids: ‘You have to work harder than anybody else’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Kaye says:

    I’ve always liked her. It seems like she has her head on right.

  2. Mcmmom says:

    I have always worked, so that’s what my kids know. For the most part, it’s good because they all have a great work ethic, but I also worry that I might have raised at least one workaholic. I’m reminding him to have some fun and he’s a grinder.

  3. HeatherC says:

    I like that she tells her kids that they’re going to have to work and nothing is handed to you. Especially as a celebrity rich mom. Otherwise your kids end up like Tori Spelling.

    • TIFFANY says:

      I see it as more of her knowing they her children are gonna be Black in America and will have to work twice as hard only to still be seen half as good. Charlize will always have her kids back, but she ain’t dumb about the world and how they treat Black children and adults. Respect for Charlize not living in a bubble about this.

      • Mcmmom says:

        Her kids are Black, adopted, and I think one is trans – so while they won’t grow up knowing hunger or poverty because of who she is, it’s not going to be all sunshine and roses, either.

  4. The Old Chick says:

    She and her mum worked hard and had a tough life, but her kid’s won’t have to no matter what. She’s conferred a privilege of fame and fortune that 99.9% will never have. They may still be the hardest workers in the room, but her kids will be lucky. I hope it works out for them.

    • SAS says:

      I think that’s what every parent wants though. My parents both grew up with very difficult childhoods, my father in a war. They work so hard, and my sibling and I have never known what it’s like to be hungry or live with violence. We’re both university educated and have cushy jobs, but being raised with the awareness that other people (including our own extended family still living in developing nations) do not have such privilege, has kept us grounded, empathetic and not ignorant to our luck.

    • ShiOlllie says:

      I love Charlize but it drives me nuts when rich, privileged parents tell their kids ‘you have to work harder than everybody else’ because not only is it not true, but it also allows their children to convince themselves that any success they have in life is because they earned it and are ‘working harder than everyone else’ and allows them to dismiss the idea that their parents’ money, connections, and social status had the most impact.

      The better thing to teach your children is the truth: they are going to have advantages and access that kids outside their social status won’t have, and they’re never going to know whether what they achieve in life is because they earned it or because they were born lucky; and the price of privilege is that you have a duty to use it to help others.

      • Mcmmom says:

        You bring up a great point and I like how you put it. The challenge with kids who were adopted (as mine were) is how to make them understand their privilege without making them guilty or that they were “saved” by their parents.

      • Josephine says:

        You don’t know that she’s not teaching her kids those norms. She strikes me as someone who says it like it is, and she knows that her kids face a different world simply by the color of their skin. I don’t think you can take one sentence and assume that she’s not also teaching them about their privilege and the impact of being a person of color in this world. Their world is no doubt a very complicated one, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that her only lesson is that the kids need to work hard. She no doubt recognizes that she worked hard but also had the huge benefit of looking like she does.

  5. Sass says:

    Sorry to be off an important topic – but um, nose job? I don’t recall hers being so pointed..?

    • SAS says:

      I just googled early Oscars pics of her 2004-2005, it looks the same as the cover pic. With the difference between the cover and the black and white photos, I’d put it down to egregious photoshop.

  6. manda says:

    I agree things are likely different at these schools than they are in South Africa, but I also don’t think that going to school anywhere in the 80s and 90s would necessarily prepare you for what school is like now. We didn’t have all sorts of weird dress up days back then, we didn’t get all sorts of random half-days, kids didn’t have every empty moment filled with an activity, and it wasn’t THAT strange if your parents never set foot inside the school. Things are different now, and as someone who doesn’t have kids, I don’t know how people keep up with it

    • Jo says:

      Exactly. I constantly tell my parents how easy they had it! I don’t think my dad set foot in the school even once. My kids’ school have three different digital platforms for payments, after school clubs and the weekly (!!!!) newsletter. Then there’s the non-uniform days, then there’s the assembly days, it goes on and on and on and on. Even in secondary school.

    • It Really Is You, Not Me says:

      I literally made a last-minute pair of dragon wings for a school book report this weekend because the teachers didn’t tell us about the report until last week and Amazon couldn’t deliver anything in time. It wasn’t required to dress up, but my kid was so excited about it that I really wanted to do it for her. My mom was a professional (as am I) and she would have laughed in my face if I asked her to make a pair of dragon wings, much less on 5 days’ notice. She wouldn’t have been wrong to laugh in my face, either

  7. Emmi says:

    My mom always worked, she was a teacher. She made more money than my dad once she went from part-time to full-time again when my sister entered kindergarten. She still did most of the housework. My dad spent a lot of time with us but he did not do laundry etc. So for me it was always a no-brainer that moms work outside the home. I know SAHMs have a job as well but let’s be honest, kids don’t see the work. I know people should make their own decisions but in my mind there is no downside to seeing both parents work outside the home and share chores. Telling your sons that men should do housework is one thing, seeing dad do it, is quite another.

    Our parents also never had to participate in school and it was fine. In elementary school there was ONE afternoon each December when all the moms (and only the moms) came to the school to do some crafts with us. I hated it. My mom hated it. LOL I know a lot of stuff is better than it was 30 years ago but some of it just sounds exhausting.