Breaking New Ground
Oprah and Charlize Theron
Oscar®-winning actress Charlize Theron appears to be one lucky gal at the height of her career. But for Charlize, there's no such thing as luck. "Luck doesn't exist in my vocabulary anymore," says Charlize. "It's a bad habit. I said it the other day. Ironically, somebody said the same thing to me the other day, 'Don't say luck.' So I'm stopping myself."

Instead, Charlize agrees with Oprah's take on success. "There's no such thing as luck," Oprah tells Charlize. "There's only preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. ... If you weren't prepared when the opportunity showed up, nothing would have happened."
Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/
Charlize calls her boyfriend of five years, Stuart Townsend, "the best thing that's ever happened to me." She credits Stuart with dispelling many of the relationship fears she had before they met, "like not being able to be an individual...feeling like I couldn't be successful in my career and be successful in a relationship." Instead, Charlize explains her beau was "so secure within himself; so encouraging for me to be an individual."

Charlize says Stuart is also her best friend. "He's just incredible in so many ways," says Charlize. "I mean, five years later I still can't stop talking to him. You know? We sit at a dinner and we can't get enough of each other's conversation. And we like making out!"
Charlize Theron talks about beauty
Charlize says she doesn't choose roles based on a character's appearance. "I don't look at the physical [aspect]. The physical—a lot of times—comes just very organically from looking at the emotional."

Oprah had an AHA! moment when Charlize shared her thoughts on beauty: "I really believe that we look physically the way we do because of the emotional impact that we've made on our bodies during our life." When developing a character—both inside and out—Charlize says she keeps that philosophy in mind. "We start with the emotional stuff and then I try to go,' Well, these are the marks that this emotional life has left on her body.'"
Charlize Theron's views on cosmetic surgery
Oprah had yet another AHA! moment when Charlize shared her thoughts on cosmetic surgery for the sake of looking younger. She says that when women try to eliminate the wrinkles on their face, "it's like burning your photo albums."

"We all go through a lot of turmoil and a lot of difficult things that maybe we'd want to forget," Charlize explains. "But you grow from those things and when you see those moments and those lines, it's not looking back at devastation. It's going, 'I've grown from this.' And so in a way ... you've earned it."
Charlize Theron's mother, Gerda
Charlize credits her mother, Gerda, for keeping her grounded. "I don't like creating unnecessary drama in my life," says Charlize. "I like things very simple and very peaceful, and I like to surround myself by people like that. And I think that [my] moral compass comes from the way I was raised."

Because both Charlize and her mother are "very strong personalities," they often agree to disagree. "We have great conversation, I like to call it—not fights," Charlize explains. "The great thing that she really encouraged when I was young was to think for myself."

What does Gerda think of her movie star daughter? "Of course you have to be proud of your child. They don't all have to be movie stars. I just have a daughter that is a movie star. But to me, she's just my daughter. I love her work. I'm very proud of her."
Charlize Theron gets Oscar buzz for 'North Country'
The drama North Country is based on a true story of sexual harassment in a northern Minnesota mine in the early 1980s. Charlize plays Josey Aimes, a single mom desperate to find a good-paying job. Josey's friend, Glory, played by Oscar® winner Frances McDormand, suggests she apply at the local mine.

Even though the mine is required by the government to hire women, many of the male employees are outraged and begin terrorizing the new female hires. As she witnesses the escalating abuse towards women in the mine, Josey grows angrier and angrier. Complaining to her boss got Josey labeled a troublemaker, and the harassment against her turned violent. With the help of a lawyer played by Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson, Josey files a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against the mine, winning the first case of its kind in history in 1984.

"At the end of the day I'm only servicing the greater story," Charlize says. "When I watch this film, I'm incredibly moved by it...because of everybody in it and because I think it's a great emotional story."
Charlize Theron, star of 'North Country'
Charlize says that the filmmakers made great efforts to ensure that North Country remained true to the experiences of the women who lived this story. "We tried to keep the real women as a thread throughout the entire film," she says. "They are everywhere with us. [In] the courtroom [scene], when you see the women, those are the actual women who experienced all of this. For me as an actress, it was incredibly powerful. And, I think, somewhat cathartic for them."

Charlize says that the women also inspired her performance. "I have such a great appreciation for people who come from these rural places, because I grew up in a rural town and I find them incredibly strong and incredibly resilient. They don't sit back and wallow in self-pity and feel sorry for themselves because they don't have that luxury. At the end of the day, they have to do what they have to do to get through and to survive. And in saying that, they're the funniest, lighthearted people you will ever meet. I had an incredible time going and doing the research and meeting with these women and having them be so open and so honest. I think they really wanted us to tell the truth, and they knew that they had to give us that information and they really trusted us."
Denise (pictured above) and Charlotte, two women who once worked at International Profit Associates, a management-consulting firm in Chicago's suburbs, say they endured sexual harassment on the job.

Denise was hired after a job search in the sales department. Charlotte had taken a job with the same company years before, starting when she was 18 years old. Charlotte says she noticed early on that the male managers routinely made inappropriate comments to the female staff.

"The environment was horrible," Denise says. "The room that we worked in was like a men's locker room." Both women say they were subjected to repeated verbal and sexual abuse by coworkers and managers.

As tensions rose, the women say things got even more out of hand. "There was another sales rep," Denise says. "As I'd walk or pass him in the hallway, he would grab my arm, twist it, put it behind my back, and a couple times I thought he was going to break my arm. And it was just like that was okay to treat me like that. I guess it was just like acceptable behavior over there.

Denise says one man in particular repeatedly assaulted her and would ask her inappropriate questions. "Whenever I encountered him, he would push me against the wall, rub up against me," she says. "He would ask me, 'Do you like sex? Did you have sex last night?' Or, 'Did you have some sex today? Do you like sex?'"
According to Charlotte, even the top executive participated in the harassment. "John Burgess, the owner, had his assistant proposition me to have sex with him," she says. "She started telling me a story of how he sleeps with women in the company and how I can get a better job if I do sleep with him."

Shortly after Charlotte rejected her boss's proposition, she says, she was demoted. "The next day I went to the [Human Resources] department and spoke with the manager," Charlotte says. "She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and said, 'That's how he is.'"

Even though she said she complained, Charlotte claims his behavior became more persistent. "He started calling me every single day on the phone," she says. "Paging me into his office. Making comments to me about sleeping with him. One day he told me he wanted me to leave work with him to go have sex with him."

Denise claims she, too, was harassed by John Burgess. "He was asking me about how often I had sex and telling me you only have so much time before you're unattractive. And he used to always tell me, come and see me. And I knew that he was interested in me, so of course I never went to see him."

Denise and Charlotte finally quit their jobs and they joined a pending class action lawsuit along with 101 other women who worked for the same company.

A statement released by the company said: "The company has continually and consistently denied the allegations and has cooperated with the court by not publicly discussing the case. As such, the company cannot and will not deviate from the court decree and believes that any comment by either party on the matter is totally inappropriate."
Anne, a harassed airport worker
Anne Whiteman has worked at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for 21 years. She was the first woman certified at that airport to work in the radar room, responsible for making sure that airplanes under her watch were guided in for a safe landing. But the job that filled her with so much pride would ultimately push her to the edge and test her courage.

After witnessing a frightening incident between two other radar operators in which they allowed two planes to come within 300 feet of each other—the standard separation of aircraft is 1,000 feet—Anne says she alerted officials at the Federal Aviation Administration of the dangerous conditions. She was quickly labeled as a snitch, she says, and became the subject of severe harassment. "I couldn't get anybody to understand that this wasn't about me being picked on," Anne says. "This was about the safety of air traffic. This was about innocent people's lives. This was about a system that had gone awry."

Anne says the more she tried to prove her allegations, the worse the harassment grew. She says that her life was threatened, she was physically harassed and assaulted, and she was moved out of the radar room and into the control tower as an air traffic controller. Through it all, quitting was never an option. "I mean, I make the best of it at work," Anne says. "I love the people I work with in the control tower. They could not have been any nicer."

Anne filed a report about the practices of the air traffic controllers at the Dallas airport with the Inspector General Office of the Department of Transportation. An investigation found that some operational errors—when two aircraft come too close to each other—were indeed being covered up and a report was submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and the office of the President of the United States. However, Anne remains dissatisfied with the resolution and disciplinary action taken as a result of the investigation.

On October 6, 2005, Anne Whiteman will receive the Special Counsel's Public Servant Award for her contribution to public service and airline safety. For more information visit
Charlize Theron, star of 'North Country'
"This is the thing that really devastated me when I was doing my research," Charlize Theron says about studying for her role in North Country as a woman who fights sexual harassment at a Minnesota mine. "I think a lot of people think that this only happens at the workplace, and then when they go home it's fine. But it's so unbelievable. It really infiltrated their social structure. It influenced their children, their husbands. I think that's what people don't realize: It's just relentless."

If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment or any other form of discrimination at work or by a potential employer, you can contact:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission