March 3, 2004
Nelson Mandela and Charlize Theron
My reaction wasn't as strong as theirs, and I don't think it's fair to make any snap judgements based on her Afrikaner heritage. Plus I've gained a lot of respect for her reading about the family drama she went through, so similar to what many of my kids had been scarred by when I worked at the group home. But it did remind me that I've can't recall ever seeing Charlize discuss her experiences growing up under Apartheid. So I did some googling, and found a few references to this 1996 People magazine interview:
..with the dismantling of apartheid and the creation of new affirmative action laws, she became convinced "there was no future for a white South African." One week after turning 16, she accepted an offer from an Italian model scout, and--with her mother's blessing--headed for Milan. Looking back, she says, "I just ran."
Uhh, yeah. That quote leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But it is from a long time ago [insert every defense of Eminem here], and I've done enough interviews to know that when you only see sentence fragments quoted, there's a pretty good chance the context is getting distorted.
This topic sparked some lively discussion recently in a couple of threads at IMDB, with a number of white South Africans joining in. In one of those posts I found a somewhat more palatable Theron quote from Interview Magazine:
IS: When you were growing up, was there something inside you that said, "Wait, I'm living in a situation that's all wrong?"
So, should that be enough to put our mind at ease? Looks like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki think so:
SA celebrates with Charlize
The Times reports that she will indeed be having dinner with Mandela, and is currently picking out a dress for the occasion. If the big man deems her cool enough for a dinner date, who am I to hold a grudge? She should pick up the check though.
She also gets props for speaking out against the death penalty while promoting Monster.