JOHANNESBURG, South Africa- Actress Charlize Theron recently spoke about growing up during apartheid in South Africa and how, as a white person, she benefited from the system.
She spoke about her white privilege during an onstage discussion about her philanthropy. She was speaking to her Gringo co-star, David Oyelowo at the annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO.
“I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege. I grew up during the apartheid era, I benefited from it. These children o today were all born post-apartheid era. I feel like it’s my duty to not let them forget and to also let them know that there is [unity],we can be one and that I am with them, that we are all standing together,” she said.
The Benoni-born star added how heartwarming it is for her to be recognised by her fellow South Africans when she visits even the poorest of villages. “A lot of the places where we support grassroots organisations – who are the highest affected when it comes to AIDS and HIV in South Africa – are, I think it’s a no-brainer, very rural communities. A lot of those kids do not know who I am.
“Strangely, they always know that I am South African. And that’s heaven. It’s amazing to be around your sisters and to have that be the thing they know about you. It’s always moved me so much when they run up to me and say, ‘Hey, Sisi!’,” she recalled.
While Charlize benefited from apartheid due to the colour of her skin, she’s never hidden how traumatic her childhood was. She grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father.
Eventually her mom killed her husband in self-defence after he threatened her with a gun. When he started shooting, she grabbed her own gun and shot back, killing him and wounding his brother, who was also at their home at the time.
Police later determined she shot him in self-defence.
“I survived that, and I’m proud of that,” Charlize told The New York Times. “I’ve worked hard for that, too. And I am not scared of that. I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it because I think it explains human nature and people better.”