Charlize Theron has always been the badass, intelligent, socially-conscious woman of our dreams so it should come as no surprise that when it comes to raising daughters Jackson, 7, and August, 3, she’s focused on instilling those qualities in them, too. That became crystal clear while Theron was promoting her latest film, Long Shot, on The Graham Norton Show earlier this week. While there, Theron opened up about raising two daughters and how she plans to thoughtfully share her South African heritage with them in the future.
While on host Graham Norton’s couch alongside Long Shot costar Seth Rogen, Theron opened up about how she is teaching her two adopted daughters about the African heritage that binds them together. For Theron, that begins with teaching the girls a little about something she knows best: speaking Afrikaans, the native language of her home country of South Africa.
“I have taught them a little Afrikaans, but it’s a language filled with very conflicted history,” Theron told Norton, referring to South Africa’s fraught history of apartheid, which was still in effect while Theron was a teenager. She continued, explaining that “I am raising two beautiful proud black African girls and I want them to find themselves and not necessarily push my ancestry on them,” and went on to say that she has “taught them two very sweet Afrikaans songs about politeness.”
Theron’s comments about wanting to sensitively handle racial issues and the lasting effects of growing up in apartheid as a white woman with her daughters also came up earlier this year while discussing the film Black Panther with one of its stars, Michael B. Jordan.
“I’m very much a white African who lived and thrived under tremendously dark circumstances and that really marks you as a person. Whether that’s your ideology or not, you’re living in it,” Theron told Jordan. “When you’re young you don’t know anything different. You know something is wrong but you don’t necessarily understand the broad strokes of it.”
She continued, “It was very emotional for me to watch it. Yes, I have two young girls, two young beautiful, black, African-American girls — not from South Africa. But I had a very emotional reaction from it. I still do when I think about it because I cannot wait to share [Black Panther] with them. I said to myself, ‘I cannot wait until my girls are big enough to be able to share this with them.’ Because it’s so much more than whether you’re from Africa or whether you’re African American.”
It’s heartening to see Theron’s awareness and understanding of the nuanced responsibilities that come with being a white woman raising two Black daughters. Her comments in both conversations are just two prime examples of how she is not only doing parenting right, but she’s doing responsible parenting right.