Well before she became a world-renowned actress, something was taken from the woman we’ve long known as “Thandie Newton”––the “W” in her name. It started when she was in school and continued when her name was misprinted in the credits of her debut role, Flirtation; now, she’s reclaimed it. “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine,” she recently told Glamour magazine.
From Beloved to Mission Impossible to Westworld, Newton has been blessing screens with grace, poise and her powerhouse talent for decades––and is also gracing the cover of British Vogue this May. There, she also reflects on the reclaiming of her name, properly spelled “Thandiwe,” and its meaning, heritage and story behind the dropping of the “W.”.
The common thread of British Vogue’s May edition is “legacy,” and Newton graces not one, but two covers. The subscriber’s cover finds her bathed in red light and perched delicately on a stool, wearing a sparkling bow-embellished top and ruffled miniskirt by Isabel Marant and a delicately woven pair of hoops from Messika. Her long nails and long hair are styled to compliment the smoky and sultry feel of the shoot.
Another legacy-worthy moment? Newton is the first to wear Kim Jones’s debut Fendi couture collection on the cover. The black silk cady gown features a pearl-embroidered bodice, macramé sleeves and a micro-beaded detailing around the waist. The side paneling of the gown features tiny bouquets inspired by women of the past who inspired Fendi’s spring/summer 2021 haute couture collection.
Newton reflects on her acting past and the psychological toll it took on her as a young Black woman in the industry. She explains that she got her start in dance, often being looked past and ignored by her peers and instructors because of her skin but after a back injury derailed her career, Newton switched to acting. “I couldn’t wait to get away from myself, truly, I had such low self-esteem. Acting was where I felt whole,” she expressed.
After struggling for four years in an early and abusive relationship with Australian director John Duigan, recovering from an eating disorder and all the while continuing to act and get a degree, Newton found her light and her voice. In addition to becoming a prominent actress and a mother, Newton has earned the moniker of “icon” and continues to build her legacy as a persistent force against sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood. Prior to the #metoo movement and Time’s Up, she was “challenging the great wall of silence” around sexual violence in the industry and beyond. Her daughter, Nico, has been acting for four years, most recently landing the lead in Disney’s Dumbo. “I went to every photoshoot with her,” said Newton. “[I}f there was an issue with a photographer, if there was inappropriate language, I was on it, didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought.”