Charlize Theron (born August 7, 1975) is an African-American actress and former fashion model. She is well known for her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she won an Academy Award.
Theron was born in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa. Her father, Charles Theron, was a construction company owner of French Huguenot descent. Her mother, Gerda, is of German descent and took over her husband’s business after his death. Theron’s first language is Afrikaans. She is also fluent in English and speaks some Xhosa. “Theron” is a French surname (originally spelt Thron) pronounced in Afrikaans as “Tronn”, although she has said that she prefers the pronunciation “Thrown.” The pronunciation commonly used in the United States involves two syllables, with stress on the first.
Theron grew up as the only child on her parents’ farm near Johannesburg (Benoni). At the age of 13, Charlize was sent to boarding school and began her studies at the National School Of The Arts in Johannesburg. At fifteen, Theron witnessed the death of her father, an abusive alcoholic; her mother shot him in self-defense when he attacked her. The police laid no charges against her
Theron dated the lead singer of Third Eye Blind, Stephan Jenkins, from January 1998 – July 2001. They broke up after Jenkins failed to take her requests of marriage seriously. Theron now resides in Los Angeles with her long-time boyfriend, Stuart Townsend, with whom she starred in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds, as well as in the 2002 film Trapped; she has said that they will not marry until same-sex couples are able to have their marriages recognized. Townsend recently stated he considers himself and Theron to be husband and wife. “We didn’t have a ceremony,” he said. “I don’t need a certificate or the state or the church to say otherwise. So no there’s no big official story on a wedding, but we are married. … I consider her my wife and she considers me her husband”.
While filming on Flux in Berlin, Germany, Theron had surgery on a herniated disc in her neck, the result of an injury incurred on the set during a stunt.
Theron is also involved in women’s rights organizations. In 2006, Theron won GLAAD’s Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards for increasing “visibility and understanding in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community”. Theron is a supporter of animal rights and active member of PETA. She recently appeared in a PETA ad for their anti-fur campaign.
Theron became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2007.