Melanie Thandiwe “Thandie” Newton, daughter of Zimbabwean Princess, Nyasha and English laboratory technician and artist, Nick Newton, was born November 6, 1972. Thandie grew up in the town of Penzance in Cornwall, England. She grew up in a basically all white community, so as a child she felt out of place because of her skin color. Thandie states that as a child “I used to feel – as neither white nor black, but as a bridge between both.” I think this is a great message for everyone. We don’t have to think of ourselves as just one race, but rather we can represent multiple races, and be proud of it!
Newton is an actress, she has starred in some of your favorite movies including “Mission Impossible II” as Nyan Hall and “SOLO: Star Wars Story” as Val. Newton is the first dark skinned woman in a Star Wars movie, what an accomplishment! Newton has been an actor for 20 years and has wondered, “Is there enough diversity in Hollywood?” Newton has seen a crazy evolution in her career of how people’s view on people of color has changed in her industry. She says “But we’ve seen this evolution now where the industry is changing, people’s perceptions are changing and there’s an allowance now for people of different ethnicities and darker skinned to be accepted.” Newton also wants to see a diverse industry of not just people of color in general but also women. Too often men have a dominant presence in movie industry where women are a crucial part. Newton wants more women of color’s perspective to be represented on the big screen.
Thandie Newton is a racial advocate, but more specifically for women of color. In 2016, at Essence’s annual Black Women in Hollywood awards luncheon, she wore a shirt with names of black women who were killed by police officers. Newton wanted to make a point by wearing this. She believes that there are many important stories about women of color that must be told, but instead are often dismissed and erased, such as the women who were on her shirt. Many times, men of color have had their stories told, but Newton wants to hear women of color’s stories too.
Thandie can be a great role model for all people, she has experienced trials because of her race and stands up for what she believes is right, she has never given up her career despite her trials, and has said that she has seen change and more open mindedness in her industry. Thandie’s persistence inspires me because she stuck to her career even though there were challenges. Because Newton has seen change in her industry, that gives me hope for my future, and even if people right now are not accepting diversity in their normal lives, I can at least now that there is hope for the future and that people’s minds DO change!
-Madelyn Rempel, Project Race Kids President