Actress Thandie Newton: “Negative Experiences Bring Revelation”
Award-winning actress, and married mother of two, Thandie Newton has been great in just about every movie she’s been in. From critically acclaimed “Crash,” For Colored Girls, Beloved and is starring in the new series Westwood. But on her way to being a Hollywood starlet, Newton has had her share of ups and downs where she had to get help from.
In 2018, she’s been having quite a good year. She earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, in the HBO hit show, Westworld, as well as a Critics’ Choice Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.
Born in London to her Zimbabwean mother Nyasha and her British father Nick, she spent her first three years in Zambia before the family – she has a younger brother, Jamie, now a TV producer – moved to Cornwall.
At age 16 her ambitions to become a dancer were crushed by a back injury and, ‘by fluke’, after her GCSEs she won a role in Flirting alongside Nicole Kidman (who remains a great friend) and Naomi Watts.
While some have been shocked by the extent to which the culture of sexual abuse in Hollywood has been revealed since the #MeToo movement that began last October, Newton has not been. “I’ve been talking about sexual harassment and rape in our industry for 20 years, and no one was ready to take it on,” she says, matter-of-factly. She told CNN five years ago that when she was 18 a Hollywood casting director asked her to sit with her legs apart while he filmed up her skirt, and directed her to touch herself and “think about the person I was supposed to be having the dialogue with, and how it felt to be made love to by this person”. Some years later, a producer boasted to the director Ol Parker, by then Newton’s husband, that he’d seen the video. The unnamed director would play it at parties.
And as innocent as she was, she has said, ‘coerced’ into an ‘unhealthy’ relationship with the film’s director John Duigan, 23 years her senior. The affair went on for six years during which, she has said, she suffered from bulimia and intense feelings of shame.
“But I still feel a need to communicate to other young women what happened to me. Because I really do believe that negative experiences can very often be the absolute revelation in your life. Sometimes our instincts attract us to the wrong people – sometimes to someone who is abusive and who will make us feel bad about ourselves because our subconscious is telling us that is what we are looking for. Sometimes an abusive relationship can lead you to unwrap your pain because you are left so low you have to look into the core of who you are and that will lead you back to the cause of your issues and help you change,” she says.
For Thandie, that change occurred in 1997 when she met and fell in love with her husband Ol Parker.
“Every relationship I have had has been my journey to Ol. My husband is my best friend and he is the closest thing to a saint that I can think of – I don’t mean that he is a martyr, but he has this ability to rise to any difficulty and an openness to becoming a better person all the time.
When it comes to her beauty, the 45-year-old says simple is best.
“Generally, I am low maintenance, but during the run of the play I had to wear a lot of eye make-up, which meant using a great cleaner. I apply Neal’s Yard Rose Beauty Balm, work it in, then remove it with a flannel rinsed with warm water. It dissolves everything. After that I just need a few dabs of Olay moisturizer. I have combination skin, so…