Charlize Theron Unpacks Some of the Trauma From Growing Up in South Africa During Apartheid

Charlize Theron is a talented actress, best known for her roles in movies such as Monster and Tully. Although Theron rose to fame as a blonde bombshell, she has worked hard to achieve acclaim as a dramatic actress.

These days, Theron has added the titles of producer and director to her resume as well and has the clout in Hollywood to only work on projects that truly excite her. Recently, Theron opened up about her traumatic childhood and how growing up in South Africa during a problematic time has affected her life. 

How did Charlize Theron get started in the film business?

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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Theron was born in South Africa in 1975. She has Dutch, French, and German ancestors, and grew up well aware of how her heritage.

When Theron was only a teenager, her father, an alcoholic, threatened Theron and her mother in a fit of rage. Theron’s mother was able to access a gun, at which point she shot and killed young Theron’s father. The shooting was determined to be self-defense and Theron’s mother was able to avoid any jail sentence.

Although Theron’s childhood years were difficult, she blossomed into a beautiful teenager and began modeling. After some time modeling, Theron decided to pursue a career as a ballet dancer and started intense training.

Following a bout of depression and suffering from some health issues, Theron moved to California in the early nineties to become an actress. She got her big break in 1995, and began appearing in movies such as Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Charlize Theron’s best-known roles

Theron’s beauty meant that she received offers for a lot of movies where she would play the stereotypical pretty romantic interest. Still, she was more interested in roles that challenged her creatively, and she held out for interesting projects.

Slowly, the right parts began to trickle in. Theron earned acclaim early on for movies like The Devil’s Advocate, The Cider House Rules, and The Legend of Bagger Vance

By the early 2000s, Theron had become a familiar presence in Hollywood. In 2003, she received an Academy Award for her intense, tough portrayal of a serial killer in the film Monster. It changed the way that many viewers saw Theron and opened the door for a plethora of juicy roles.

In the years since, Theron has continued taking challenging roles, including parts in films such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus, and Bombshell. 

Charlize Theron opened up about growing up during apartheid

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Even though Theron has reached the peak of Hollywood fame, there’s no doubt that she has had her share of struggles over the years. From the death of her father to health issues, Theron has plenty of tragedy to draw upon for inspiration.

Recently, Theron opened up about how her unique upbringing, and her exposure to the race issues in South Africa, caused her to deal with some major trauma later on in life. 

Theron admitted: “I had friends whose father would be for apartheid and once they found out that black people lived on our farm wouldn’t let me come over for a sleepover. I always wonder what my life would have been like if I grew up in one of those families — if I was just an innocent child who was born into the family, like one of my friends, who believed that apartheid was the right way of life.”

She also stated that she didn’t really realize the effect that her childhood had on her until years later when she went to therapy. She said: “I discovered while in therapy, trying to save my relationship, was that I had a lot of trauma from being a young child growing up in South Africa during the apartheid era.”

Theron has clearly been able to overcome her past issues. However, it is likely that the memory of her past will always stay with her.