‘I’m Taking Back What’s Mine’: Thandiwe Newton Reclaims the Original Spelling of Her Name 30 Years After It Was ‘Stolen’

Actress Thandiwe Newton is correcting a three-decade-long typo. 

The “Westworld” star recently revealed that her name was misspelled for over 30 years. Having gone by Thandie, the 48-year-old said she will now go by Thandiwe Newton in television and movie credits. 

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 05: Thandie Newton attends the premiere of HBO’s “Westworld” Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 05, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The “Crash” actress was born Melanie Thandiwe Newton, with Thandiwe pronounced “tan-DEE-way,” a word meaning beloved in the Ndebele language of Zimbabwe where her mother Nyasha Newton originated.

During an interview with British Vogue for an article published on Sunday, April 4, the Emmy-winning star explained why she reverted to her name’s original spelling, stating, “That’s my name. It’s always been my name.” She added, “I’m taking back what’s mine.”

The publication reported that her name was transformed during her years at a Catholic school ran by “joyless nuns,” a school the Vogue interviewer described as “where she was once excluded from a class photograph for sporting cornrows and made to feel like an in-house missionary project, and where the W of her name drifted inward, out of sight and earshot in a futile hope to make her feel less different.”

Newton later explained that her name was later misspelled in her first film’s credits, which is listed on IMDB as 1991’s “Flirting” and just stayed that way for the next three decades. Responding to a Twitter post about her name change, the actress wrote, “The director of my first film asked to use my actual name for the character — because it was authentic and beautiful.” She added, “I felt flattered and agreed. And then in the credits they used my ‘nickname’ to differentiate from the character name. They stole my name. And I’m taking it back.”

Fans and peers applauded the star on the decision, including actor Johnathon Schaech, who also revealed a similar situation happened to him. “They did the same thing on my first film. I’m literally in tears,” the “Prom Night” actor wrote. “You are such an inspiration. AND so incredibly talented. I don’t know if I have the courage that you do or the support. But I’m proud of you 🙏🏾❤️.”

Writer Alysia Joy Powell commented, “So proud of you to live your truth. It’s a beautiful name. Standing with you and honoring you. 💕”

“Wait. We’ve been saying it wrong this entire time? They STOLE it?? What the hell?” a third expressed. “So glad you’re calling them out and reclaiming your name. 💖 Thandiwe.”


The actress didn’t reveal why she waited so long to make the correction but instead explained what she was “most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me.” She added, “And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others,’ which is what happens when you’re the only one.”

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