In a lengthy Q & A with Vulture, actress Thandie Newton described her experiences with racism and sexism by a handful of Hollywood executives and detailed past trauma in the industry as more actors open up about the reality of success and diversity in Hollywood.
Newton, 47—who is known for roles on Westworld, ER, Rogue and W., The Pursuit of Happyness, Crash, Beloved and many more—opened up systemic racism and sexual abuse in the film industry that has plagued her career since her 1991 debut in Flirting, during which she alleges she was sexually abused.
“If you’re a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no one’s going to fucking care,” said the actor in the interview.
She also said she was “scared” of Tom Cruise as his co-star in “Mission Impossible II”, alleging that he mainsplained her lines to her by filming himself playing her part to show her how to read her lines, which caused her “terror and insecurity,” though she still calls him a “nice person.”
Newton unpacked why she opted out of Charlie’s Angels (which would gross over $264 million) following an exchange with former Sony Pictures chairperson Amy Pascal in which Pascal was “reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character,” including one where she “gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.”
Pascal told Vulture she has “no recollection” of this meeting (Pascal was fired after a Sony Pictures email leak revealed her speculation of whether Barack Obama preferred films with Black casts.)
Newton also discussed the sexual abuse scene in Crash, saying that she “had no idea that that’s what we were going to be conveying in the movie,” and when she found out she “went into the makeup trailer and burst into tears.”
She also discusses meeting the Vagina Monologues’ Eve Ensler and learning to reclaim her narrative as a sexual abuse survivor, rather than victim, at age 21.
“There are so many problems to feeling disenfranchised. But I keep finding myself alone. There is now an appetite for listening to women, but there’s women and then, right at the bottom of the pile, is women of color. So careful what you do, everybody, because you might find yourself fucking over a little brown girl at the beginning of a career, when no one knows who she is and no one gives a fuck. She might turn out to be Thandie Newton winning Emmys,” said Newton.
Thandie Newton said in a 2016 interview with W that a director had sexually abused her as a teenager by shooting her in an explicit scene that the director would screen “to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it.”
Newton has starred in a number of award-winning films, winning a Screen Actors Guild Award for Crash and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama for Westworld.