When Charlize Theron was 15 years old, her mother killed her father in self defense. Her dad Charles was a “pretty hopeless” alcoholic who came home with a gun one night. Her mother Gerda barricaded herself and Charlize behind a door. “He took a step back and just shot through the door three times,” the Oscar-winning actress told NPR in 2019. “None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle.” Gerda retrieved a gun from inside the house, and “in self-defense, she ended the threat,” Theron said.
Years later, Theron founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, which supports “transformative, locally-led change by partnering with community-based organizations that support young people, their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender-based violence prevention,” according to the organization’s website. When asked in a recent interview by Town and Country magazine if she was inspired to start CTAOP after what happened to her and her mother when she was a teenager, Theron, who was born in South Africa, replied, “I would say this: It’s a simple correlation to make.
The Mad Max: Fury Road star continued, “But I think it’s way more complicated than having just one night of trauma in your life. With or without that, gender-based violence is so in your face in South Africa and globally. It’s hard to not be aware of these things just purely by being a woman.”
Theron said that the bigger trauma “was growing up in a country under apartheid and having AIDS come. Those things really, really marked me — I almost want to say more than just that one night in my life.”
You can find out more about the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project here.