Newton’s full name is Melanie Thandiwe Newton. Thandiwe is pronounced “tan-DEE-way” and it means “beloved”. In an interview with British Vogue, she revealed that her name was misspelled in the credits of her first film in 1991, Flirting which co-starred Nicole Kidman and Noah Taylor. As a result, Thandie Newton has stuck for over three decades. It’s not known why she waited so long to revert to the real spelling of her name — but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we refer to her as Thandiwe Newton from here on out.
“The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me,” said Newton in the interview with British Vogue. “And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one.”
Newton continued, “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”
The Emmy-winning actress has become an outspoken advocate on numerous fronts. In the British Vogue article, it mentions her involvement in the African American Policy Forum and the #sayhername campaign founded by her friend Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality”. Newton is also a board member of Eve Ensler’s V-Day, which supports women survivors of sexual violence in Congo with the City of Joy project. She also helped establish One Billion Rising which campaigns to end violence against women. She was also awarded the OBE in 2018 for her contributions to charity and film. “We can make a difference,” she said.