Put Some Respect On Thandiwe Newton’s (Real) Name

Ineye KomoniboMon, 5 April 2021, 6:21 pm

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 05: Thandie Newton attends the Louis Vuitton show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020 on March 05, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 05: Thandie Newton attends the Louis Vuitton show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020 on March 05, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images)

At 48 years old, Thandiwe Newton would like to reintroduce herself to the world, choosing to revert to the original spelling and pronunciation of her birth name.

In a candid new cover interview for British Vogue, Newton revealed that her name change wasn’t at all intentional. Born Melanie Thandiwe Newton to a white British father and a Black Zimbawean mother, the actress was given a meaningful Shona name (“beloved”) to pay homage to her mother’s royal lineage. However, years of her name being butchered and mispronounced in primary school led to the casual transformation, with the prominent “W” sound slowly but surely fading away over time.

“I mean holy hell,” she recalled of her experience in the United Kingdom as a biracial child. “We may as well have been the first Black people anyone had ever seen…we didn’t have anything.”To view this content, you’ll need to update your privacy settings.Please click here to do so.

As years passed, and Newton began following her professional dreams of being an actress, the mispronunciation just stuck. From her 1991 debut in the coming-of-age drama Flirting to now, she’s been widely known as “Thandie.”

Anyone with a “difficult” or “unique” name knows the feeling. Growing up, roll call was typically a source of anxiety, and that same stress still follows many of us to our adult years. Despite people being able to pronounce names like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Daenerys Targaryen (a name that is quite literally made up!) with ease, they too often ask us if we have middle names or nicknames because the blessings that our parents spoke over us in their native tongue at birth are “too hard.”

After all this time, Newton has had enough, and she’s ready to set the record straight. From now on, any project that she’s involved in will appropriately credit her in her given name. The truth is, she’s always been Thandiwe — it’s the rest of the world that needs to catch up.

“That’s my name,” Newton concluded proudly in Vogue. “It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”

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