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In 2013 Actress Thandie Newton received THE VOICE OF A WOMAN - WOMEN AS AGENTS OF SOCIAL CHANGE AWARD 2013, for her leadership of a global campaign to bring greater public awareness to sexual violence against women and girls - bringing wider attention to rape being used as a weapon of war.

Thandie delivered a VOICE OF A WOMAN TALK discussing her career and passion to make a difference for women and girls through her work with Eve Ensler and the One billion rising movement. 

Close to Thandie's heart is her work to empower and inspire women and girls, those affected by conflict and victims of rape used as a weapon of war.  She sits on the Board of Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising, the global mass action campaign movement to end violence against women and girls.

"I'm on the Board of V-Day (a campaign charity started by Eve Ensler) and have been to the Democratic Republic of Congo to see the some of their work on the ground.  We have developed one of their most successful safe houses for women recovering from sexual violence in eastern Congo.  It's called the City of Joy - named by the women.  When Eve Ensler goes into a place, she really intuits and give voice to the voiceless women she works with.  What she does so successfully, in places like the DRC and many other parts of the world, is that she asks these women what they really need? Aid on its own does not work and any help from outside should be about harnessing the power these women potentially possess, despite their situation."

Thandie feels very strongly that if humanity heals women, we heal the planet; you heal the planet you heal women; you heal women, you heal humanity.  "Sometimes my daughters will say, here Mum goes again, but they do it with a smile."


Thandie was born in London, England, the daughter of a Zimbabwean Shona Princess and artist. Her name Thandiwe means beloved in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa, or siSwati.

"From about age of 5, I was aware that I didn't fit.  I was the black, kid in the all white, Catholic school run by nuns.  I was an anomaly," Thandie says.  She was brought up in London and Penzance, Cornwall, and studied dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.  Between 1992 and 1995, she went to Downing College Cambridge, where she studied social anthropology and graduated with a 2:1.

She has appeared in more than 25 Hollywood films since her debut role in Flirting in 1991, she is one of the most prolific actresses of African descent in Hollywood today.

Her defining roles include Beloved, the highly acclaimed eponymous movie (alongside Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover); In Pursuit of Happyness as Linda, alongside Will Smith; Tangie in Tyler Perry's For Coloured Girls (with Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson and Kerry Washington); Kate in the hilarious Norbit with Eddie Murphy; Condelezza Rice in W - a film about President George W. Bush (she says playing the former US Secretary of State was one of the most difficult roles) and Nyah alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2.

Her most recent movie role was in the 2015 Half of a Yellow Sun - a movie based on a novel of the same name by one of Africa's most celebrated authors - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - in which Thandie plays the lead role of Olanna alongside fellow BAFTA award-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is of Nigerian ancestry.

In 2006 Thandie won a BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, for her role as Christine Thayer in the highly acclaimed movie Crash in which she co-starred with Sandra Bullock and Don Cheadle.  Thandie will this year do a TV remake of the popular 1970s series Westworld, also featuring acclaimed actor Sir Anthony Hopkins.


Half of a Yellow Sun
For Coloured Girls
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Chronicles of Riddick
Mission: Impossible II
The Leading Man

Excerpts taken from writer Gina Jane Jere - 14th August 2015

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