Biographies of Famous South Africans
Hall of Fame


Those who have expanded our horizons.
The stuff of legends.

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Charlize Theron
7 August 1975 - ?

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, South Africa. She grew up as the only child on her family's farm. Learned the some of her 8 languages from staff on this family farm. Her parents also owned a road construction business at the same time. At the age of 6, Charlize took up ballet and began to think of going professional. She would soon take her dancing ability to higher levels, going professional in the town of Johannesburg. At 13, in Johannesburg, her parents enrolled her in a boarding school.

When she was 15, her father attacked her mother, and her mother shot her father in self-defense. Her father died, and her mother was not charged in the incident.

At the age of 16 she took an offer to begin modelling in Milan, Italy, offered after winning a local modeling contest. This, however, lasted for only a year when she grew tired of it. On the last day of a modelling shoot in Manhattan, New York, she decided she would not return to Italy. She decided to return to her first love -- ballet. She began dancing with the Joffrey school in New York. After completing such popular shows as the Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake, she suffered a knee injury that ended her ballet career at the young age of 18.

Without the ability to dance ballet, and nearly broke, Charlize bought a one way ticket to Hollywood at the urging of her mother, Gerda. She arrived in Fairfax, California where she set up shop in the Farmer's Daughter Motel. It was in 1994 that she was "discovered." When an L.A. bank teller refused to cash her out-of-town cheque because she did not have an account at the bank, she threw "a little tantrum." This tantrum was witnessed by a talent manager named John Crosby, who also represents Rene Russo and John Hurt. He called this screaming, arm-waving tantrum-thrower a "vision" and immediately asked her "I don't know what you do, but if you're interested in acting, here's my card." Initially skeptical of the card, she was informed by a friend that John Crosby was legitimate. Of course, with no money or job, she was definitely interested and set out to shed her South African accent. She began watching hours of television and singing along to American songs on the radio. Soon after, she acquired her first acting job -- 2 Days in the Valley, and from that point her star status was assured.

She recently found herself in the centre of a highly publicized controversy surrounding an advertisement she did in her native South Africa. The campaign, an anti-rape series done in an attempt to bring notice to the high incidence of rape in South Africa, was met with complaints after it was felt the ad was "anti-men" in general. She has since supported actions to halt the hunting of caged lions (canned lions), and she has involved herself personally in trying to prevent the same thing happening to a rare and tame Black Rhino. According to a letter that Theron sent Virginia businessman David Laylin, the owner of the Rhino, Laylin is to be paid $60,000 for the animal from a big-game hunter. Theron wrote:

"If you agree to release (the rhino) to a sanctuary, I will agree to meet you in South Africa to celebrate her freedom."

These selfless acts reflect her willingness to use her fame towards useful causes and she has become one of South Africa's darlings.

In 2004 she achieved the ultimate distinction in her field when she won both the Best Actress Golden Globe and Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film 'Monster', becoming the first South African to win a major Academy Award. She said in her emotional acceptance speech:

"I know everybody in New Zealand has been thanked, so I'm going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country."

Afterwards Charlize jetted into South Africa to a heroine's welcome. She met her personal hero Nelson Mandela, and President Thabo Mbeki sent a note saying:

"We are all immensely proud of this, our South African daughter. We wish her well."

Charlize and Madiba

Actress - Filmography

Film: Character portrayed:
Jinx (2009) (in talks)
The Brazilian Job (2008) Stella Bridger
Tonight, He Comes (2008) (pre-production)
The Ice at the Bottom of the World (2008) (pre-production)
Battle in Seattle (2007) Ella
In the Valley of Elah (2007) Det. Emily Sanders
Ferris Wheel (2007) Joleen
∆on Flux (2005) ∆on Flux
North Country (2005) Josey Aimes
Head in the Clouds (2004) Gilda Bessť
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) Britt Ekland
Monster (2003) Aileen
The Italian Job (2003) Stella Bridger
Waking Up in Reno (2002) Candy Kirkendall
Trapped (2002) Karen Jennings
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) Laura Kensington
15 Minutes (2001) Rose Hearn
Sweet November (2001) Sara Deever
The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) Adele Invergordon
Men of Honor (2000) Gwen Sunday
The Yards (2000) Erica Stoltz
Reindeer Games (2000) Ashley Mercer
The Cider House Rules (1999) Candy Kendall
The Astronaut's Wife (1999) Jillian Armacost
Mighty Joe Young (1998) Jill Young
Celebrity (1998) Supermodel
The Devil's Advocate (1997) Mary Ann Lomax
Trial and Error (1997) Billie Tyler
Hollywood Confidential (1997) (TV) Sally
That Thing You Do! (1996) Tina
2 Days in the Valley (1996) Helga Svelgen
Children of the Corn III (1995) (uncredited) Young Woman


Contact Charlize Theron:

Postal address: c/o United Talent Agency
                       9560 Wilshire Blvd.
                       Suite 500
                       Beverly Hills
                       CA 90212

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