Charlize Theron (born August 7, 1975) is a South African-born American actress and former fashion model. She is well-known for her portrayal of the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she won an Academy Award.
At the age of sixteen, Theron traveled to Milan, Italy, on a one-year modeling contract, after winning a local competition. She went to New York with Pauline's Model Management. She decided to remain in NY after her contract ended, attending the Joffrey Ballet School, where she trained as a ballet dancer. A knee injury closed this career path when Theron was nineteen.
Unable to dance, Theron flew to Los Angeles on a one-way ticket her mother bought her. During her early months there, she went to a bank to cash a check her mother had sent her to help with the rent. When the teller refused to cash it, Theron immediately started into a shouting match with her. Afterwards, a talent agent in line behind her handed her his business card and subsequently introduced her to some casting agents and also an acting school.
After eight months in the city, she was cast in her first film part, a non-speaking role in the direct-to-video film Children of the Corn III (1995). Larger roles in widely released Hollywood films followed, and her career skyrocketed in the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999).
After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). Film critic Roger Ebert called it "one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema". For this role, Theron won the Best Actress Oscar at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first South African to win an Oscar for Best Actress. The Oscar win pushed her to The Hollywood Reporter's 2006 list of highest-paid actresses in Hollywood; earning $10,000,000 for both her subsequent films, North Country and Æon Flux, she ranked seventh, behind Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Renée Zellweger, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman.
In 2005, Theron portrayed Rita, Michael Bluth's (Jason Bateman) love interest, on the third season of FOX's critically-acclaimed television series Arrested Development. She also received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her role of Britt Ekland in the 2004 HBO movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
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