Women of Wonder

'Fearless' Charlize Theron kicks ass on and off the silver screen

29 August 2020 - 06:00 By Khanyisile Ngcobo
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Acclaimed SA-born actress Charlize Theron. File image.
Acclaimed SA-born actress Charlize Theron. File image.
Image: Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images

Fearless Hollywood actress Charlize Theron is living proof that life sometimes does indeed imitate art.

The SA-born actress is renowned for taking on kick-ass roles in some of Hollywood's biggest action movies but has taken this role further than the silver screen through her work as a social activist and philanthropist.

The award-winning actress has not only earned recognition and acclaim for her various roles in film and TV, but has also fearlessly tackled other important issues affecting not only her countrymen but also the world.

As the acclaimed actress continues pushing boundaries, both in Hollywood and globally, we can't help but wonder who she really is and what makes her such an inspiration.


Theron was born in Benoni, in what was then known as the Transvaal province, on August 7 1975 to Charles and Gerda Theron.

The talented actress started out as a dancer and then a model before pursuing acting in the US. She made her debut in the 1995 film Children of the Corn III  before landing what is widely considered her breakout role a few years later in The Devil's Advocate.

Her star continued to rise with movies such as The Italian Job, The Cider House Rules, Sweet November and The Astronaut's Wife before landing the lead role in the critically acclaimed movie Monster.

Her moving performance as real-life serial killer and prostitute Aileen Wuornos earned her various accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actress.

She made history when she became the first South African to win an Academy Award in an acting category.

Theron further established herself as a leading Hollywood actress and further cemented her status with films such as The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, North Country, Aeon Flux, Hancock, alongside Will Smith, Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and its sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016) as well as The Old Guard, to name a few.

Theron is not only renowned for her starring roles in some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, but also her philanthropy and social activism throughout the years. In 2007, she launched the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), which invests in African youth and their ability to keep themselves and their peers safe from HIV/Aids.

A year later, she was named a UN Messenger of Peace, with a focus on HIV prevention.

Theron is also noted for being vocal on LGBTQI+ issues, having proudly supported her transgender daughter Jackson.

She's also spoken out against sexual harassment in Hollywood and women abuse over the years, having defended her mother's killing of her abusive father.

Theron is also an advocate for The Global Fund, an institution dedicated to fighting Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.


Theron's work as an acclaimed actress has earned her much praise and accolades in Hollywood including an Oscar and Golden Globe awards.

Her work as a UN Messenger of Peace, ambassador for the Global Fund and founder of the CTAOP has helped highlight the importance of HIV prevention.

Her support for the LGBTQI+ community and daughter Jackson, who was raised as a boy, has earned her widespread praise from the community. Theron's outspokenness on sexual harassment and women abuse, having said she's not “ashamed” to speak of the abuse she and her mother endured from her father, has helped erase the stigma around the issue.

Her history-making performance in Monster and continued focus on issues affecting SA have made her a source of pride and inspiration for South Africans.

Sources: Biography website

UN website

CTAOP website

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