Charlize Theron (born 7 August 1975) is a South African actress. She rose to fame in the late 1990s following roles in The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). Theron won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003), for which she became the first African to win an Academy Award in a major acting category. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance in North Country (2005). Since 2007, Theron has also held American citizenship.
Theron was born in Benoni, in the then Transvaal Province of South Africa, the only child of Gerda Jacoba Aletta (née Maritz; born 27 January 1953) and Charles Jacobus Theron (27 November 1947 – 21 June 1991). Her mother is of German descent and her father was of Occitan (French) and Dutch ancestry; Theron is descended from early Huguenot settlers, and Boer War figure Daniel Theron was her great-great uncle. "Theron" is an Occitan surname (originally spelled Théron) pronounced in Afrikaans as "Tronn", although she has said that the way it is pronounced in South Africa is "Thrown". She changed the pronunciation when she moved to the U.S.
Although fluent in English, her first language is Afrikaans. She grew up on her parents' farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg. Her father died on 21 June 1991, after he was shot by Theron's mother. Theron's father, who suffered from alcoholism, physically attacked her mother and threatened both women while drunk. The shooting was legally adjudged to have been self-defence and her mother faced no charges.
Theron attended Putfontein Primary School (Laerskool Putfontein). Those years were a period she characterises as not "fitting in":
I wore really nerdy glasses because I was blind as could be and the boys didn't like. I didn't have any boyfriends, but lots of crushes. I wasn't in the popular crowd. There was a really popular girl at school and I was obsessed with her. I was in tears one day because I couldn't sit next to her. I actually got a lot of the mean-girl stuff from the ages of 7 to 12. I was pretty much a mess in primary school. But I got that out of my system by the time I got to high school and was more immune to all of that stuff.