6 things you didn’t know about Westworld’s Thandiwe Newton

6 things you didn’t know about Westworld’s Thandiwe Newton

By Agencies

Formerly credited as Thandie Newton, Thandiwe Newton is a British actress who rose above several challenges in her budding days to become a household name. Newton began her journey in the entertainment industry as a dancer. She was 11 years old when she enrolled to study dance but an injury ended her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.

When dancing was no longer an option, Thandiwe Newton focused her energy on acting where she continues to excel. Her most recognizable roles include the titular role in Beloved (1998), Nyah Nordoff-Hall in Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Christine Thayer in Crash (2004), Linda in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), and Maeve Millay in Westworld (2016–2022). Crash and Westworld earned her numerous award nominations and wins. Read on for more interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Thandiwe Newton.

1. Thandiwe Newton Has Zimbabwean Royal Heritage

Thandiwe Newton

Though born in the Westminster area of London, Thandiwe Newton has both British and African heritage. Her father, Nick Newton is a British lab technician while her mother, Nyasha Jombe is a Zimbabwean healthcare worker from the Shona tribe. Jombe is a Princess of the Shona Tribe, one of the most prominent tribes in Zimbabwe. Newton’s family resided in Zambia in her early years but she was born in the United Kingdom during one of their visits.

They returned to Zambia where her younger brother was born but the family had to move back to England due to political unrest. Additionally, her father needed to assist in managing his family’s antique business. As such, Thandiwe Newton spent the rest of her budding days in Penzance where her family settled down.

2. She Made Her Acting Debut in the 1991 Film Flirting


While her first project as an actress was released in 1991, Thandiwe Newton began filming the coming-of-age comedy-drama Flirting in 1989. Her next film role was in The Young Americans (1993) as Rachael Stevens. In 1994, Newton was seen as the slave Yvette in Interview with the Vampire alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. She got her first award recognition for her role in Besieged (1998) as Shandurai which earned her a nod for Black Reel Award for Best Actress. Her most widely recognized film roles are her title role in Beloved (1998), Nyah Nordoff-Hall in Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), Regina Lambert in The Truth About Charlie (2002), Dame Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick, Christine Thayer in Crash (2004) and Linda in The Pursuit of Happiness (2006).

Thandie Newton is also popular on the small screen. She played her first main role in a television series when she was cast as Grace Travis in Rogue. Newton was 6 months pregnant with her son Booker when she finished filming Rogue season 2. Perhaps her most popular TV role thus far, Newton portrayed Maeve Millay in Westworld from 2016 to 2022. Other notable television projects she has appeared in include Line of Duty, Big Mouth, and Human Resources.

3. Her Supposed Change of Name Was a Spelling Mistake

Thandiwe Newton in Westworld

When Thandiwe Newton got her first role in Flirting (1991), her Shona name was misspelled as “Thandie.” This is even though her character’s name is Thandiwe Adjewa. Subsequently, Newton dropped Thandiwe which means “beloved” in Shona, and began using Thandie professionally. The name has lingered to date but the actress has made it clear she never intentionally changed her name. It was merely a typo that she decided to go with. Up until the late 2010s, she was credited as Thandie Newton in her film and television roles.

4. Thandiwe Newton Opted For Home Birth For Her Three Children

Thandie Newton

Thandiwe Newton has three children – all born through home births. The British star had her first child, a daughter named Ripley in 2000. Her second child, Nico,was born in 2004, while her third, a son named Booker was born in 2014. Newton was married to English filmmaker, Ol Parker who fathered her children. The marriage lasted from 1998 to 2022.

5. Her Daughter Nico Parker Is an Actress

Nico Parker

The second daughter of Thandiwe Newton, Nico Parker, is representing her mother’s legacy in the film industry. She debuted in the Tim Burton-directed film Dumbo in 2019. She worked with her mother in Reminiscence (2021) and gained more recognition for her stellar performance as a guest star in the first episode of The Last of Us. Parker has a few projects she’s working on, including How to Train Your Dragon.

6. Thandiwe Newton Studied Social Anthropology in College

Thandiwe Newton Mission Impossible

Thandiwe Newton attended St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School. She also studied dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts until an injury thwarted her plans of becoming a dancer. Newton is a graduate of Social Anthropology from Downing College, Cambridge. She graduated with a 2:1 (2nd Class Honours, Upper Division) in 1995.

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