Charlize Theron

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3 mins read

Charlize Theron was born 7 August 1975) and is a South African and American actress and producer.

Theron came to international prominence in the 1990s by playing the leading lady in the Hollywood films The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). In 2003, she received critical acclaim for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first South African to win an Oscar in a major acting category. Theron has since starred in several top-grossing action films, including Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), and Atomic Blonde (2017).

Since the early 2000s, Theron has ventured into film production with her company Denver and Delilah Productions. She has produced numerous films, in many of which she had a starring role. Theron became an American citizen in 2007, while retaining her South African citizenship. 

Theron was born in Benoni, in the then-Transvaal Province (now Gauteng Province) of South Africa, the only child of Gerda (née Maritz) and Charles Theron (born 27 November 1947). Second Boer War figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle. She is from an Afrikaner family, and her ancestry includes Dutch as well as French and German; her French forebears were early Huguenot settlers in South Africa. “Theron” is an Occitan surname (originally spelled Théron) pronounced in Afrikaans as [trɔn].

She grew up on her parents’ farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg. On 21 June 1991, Theron’s father, an alcoholic, threatened both teenaged Charlize and her mother while drunk, physically attacking her mother and shooting a gun at both of them. Theron’s mother retrieved her own handgun, shot back and killed him. The shooting was legally adjudged to have been self-defence, and her mother faced no charges.

Theron attended Putfontein Primary School (Laerskool Putfontein). At thirteen, Theron was sent to boarding school and began her studies at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. Although Theron is fluent in English, her first language is Afrikaans.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) was created in 2007 by Theron, who the next year was named an UN Messenger of Peace, in an effort to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. CTAOP’s mission is to help keep African youth safe from HIV/AIDS. The project is committed to supporting community-engaged organizations that address the key drivers of the disease. Although the geographic scope of CTAOP is Sub-Saharan Africa, the primary concentration has mostly been Charlize’s home country of South Africa. CTAOP’s approach is based on the belief that community-based organizations on the ground understand the social and structural relationships of their communities better than anyone. By supporting these organizations through grant giving, networking, and spotlighting their work, CTAOP enables communities to mobilize and empower themselves to prevent HIV.

In 2008, Theron was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

In December 2009, CTAOP and TOMS Shoes partnered to create a limited edition unisex shoe. The shoe was made from vegan materials and inspired by the African baobab tree, the silhouette of which was embroidered on blue and orange canvas. Ten-thousand pairs were given to destitute children, and a portion of the proceeds went to CTAOP.

Theron is involved in women’s rights organizations and has marched in pro-choice rallies. Theron also is a supporter of animal rights and active member of PETA. She appeared in a PETA ad for its anti-fur campaign.

Theron is a supporter of same-sex marriage and attended a march and rally to support that in Fresno, California, on 30 May 2009.She publicly stated that she refused to get married until same sex marriage became legal in the United States. 

In March 2014, CTAOP was among the charities that benefited from the annual Fame and Philanthropy fundraising event on the night of the 86th Academy Awards. Theron was an honoured guest along with Halle Berry and keynote speaker James Cameron.

In 2015, Theron signed an open letter which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for; the letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively, which will start to set the priorities in development funding before a main UN summit in September 2015 that will establish new development goals for the generation. 

Theron has two daughters, both adopted. She adopted Jackson in March 2012 and August in July 2015. She lives in Los Angeles. In April 2019, Theron revealed that Jackson, who was born a male, identifies as a girl. 

As a child, Theron had suffered from jaundice that caused dental problems. She said in an interview with The Sun that she had no teeth until she was 11 because she was put on so many antibiotics that her teeth rotted. They had to cut them out. So she never had baby teeth.