She's been Oprah's Beloved, and starred in Interview with the Vampire and Mission: Impossible II. In Crash, Thandie Newton plays Christine, wife of Terrence's Cameron. Thandie says she's had her own experience with racism during the movie casting process.
"I had a meeting for a film that I was going to do," Thandie explains. "It was a huge movie. And it was to discuss the character, because they were going to change elements of the character because I'm of color, and they needed to modify it so I would fit the role. ... The character [I was to play] had a degree from university. The studio executive said, 'I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but is it really feasible that this woman has a degree?' There was a silence in the room, and I just said, 'Well, I have a degree from Cambridge University.' And she said, 'Yeah, but you're different.' I left the room and decided I wasn't going to have anything to do with [that] movie."
But now, Thandie says she regrets having made that decision. "I was so wrong to do that. You, Oprah, taught me. You were on the cover of Vogue when we made Beloved, and you said that the people at Vogue had endless meetings about you being on the cover. And I was so ready to get hotheaded about it and say, 'That's disgusting. That's racist. Why is this such a big deal? Oprah should be on the cover.' But you said, 'No, no, no, no. They should have lots of meetings because it's a big deal for them and they might lose a readership and they have to really think it through.' But it didn't stop you from taking that place with pride. I didn't do that movie and I should have made the movie. I should have changed those people's opinions. I didn't because I felt like a victim. I think one of the worst things about racism...is that you feel like a victim."