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Thandiwe Newton says she's reclaiming spelling of her name

The "Westworld" star, who has performed as Thandie Newton since her debut in 1991, will now be using the name given to her by her Zimbabwean mother and British father.
/ Source: TODAY

Thandiwe Newton is taking back her name.

The Emmy-winning actor who has performed under the name Thandie Newton since the beginning of her career in 1991 is now using the name she was given by her Zimbabwean mother and British father.

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"Westworld" star Thandie Newton will now be performing under Thandiwe Newton, the name she was given at birth. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

"That's my name," she told British Vogue about the change for the cover story of the May issue. "It's always been my name. I'm taking back what's mine."

Newton has long gone by Thandie because the "w" was left out of her name in the credits of her first acting performance and she didn't correct it.

She will use the name Thandiwe Newton in all her future performances. The name means "beloved" in Shona, the Bantu language of the Shona people in Zimbabwe. Her mother is a Zimbabwean princess, the granddaughter of a Shona chief, according to Vogue.

"The thing I’m most grateful for in our business right now is being in the company of others who truly see me," she told the magazine. "And to not be complicit in the objectification of Black people as ‘others’, which is what happens when you’re the only one."

Newton, 48, also paid tribute to her heritage in the photos accompanying the Vogue story by wearing a Versace suit with a length of African fabric and items by designers Duro Olowu, Cheyenne Kimora and Kenneth Ize, according to Vogue.

The "Westworld" star also talked about her damaging initiation in the film business. She been speaking out for years about being sexually abused by Australian director John Duigan as a teenager on the set of the film "Flirting." Duigan, 71, was 39 at the time.

"There’s a moment where the ghost of me changed, you know, and it was then, it was 16," she said. "He derailed me from myself utterly. I was traumatized. It was a kind of PTSD for sure. I was so distraught and appalled that a director had abused a young actress, and that it was happening elsewhere, minors getting abused and how f----- up it was. I was basically waiting for someone to come along and say, ‘Well, what shall we do about this?'"

Newton's story about her experience with Duigan came during a reckoning in Hollywood that was part of the #MeToo movement highlighting the abusive behavior of men in power, and the silencing of women. Newton and "Westworld" co-star Evan Rachel Wood also highlighted the pay gap between them and their male counterparts when they fought to get equal compensation on the HBO show.

"It wasn’t a celebration. I was disgusted," she said. "Even though people know they can speak out now, there is still the fear of losing their job. I mean literally, people still say, ‘There’s someone else who could take this position, if you’re not happy,' that kind of s---. I do think studio heads need to take much more responsibility."

She feels her experiences as a young actor made her more aware of potentially abusive situations and may have cost her roles over the years.

"I have a seventh sense for abuse and abusers, which I believe is one of the reasons why I was rejected a lot in Hollywood," she said. "I’ll talk about it until the cows come home, because I know I’ll be helping someone."