Charlize Theron prides herself in being socially aware not just for herself, but for the sake of her kids.
The star of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody‘s upcoming new dramedy Tully opened up to Elle for their May cover story, talking to Chelsea Handler about how she navigates the U.S.’ current social climate as a mother to two black children: August, 2½, and Jackson, 6.
“Being raised during the apartheid era in South Africa made me so hyperaware of equality and human rights,” says Theron. “Of course, I have two black kids, but that was always something I was passionate about. I don’t even know how to talk about the last year under our new administration.”
“But racism is much more alive and well than people thought. We can’t deny it anymore. We have to be vocal,” continues the star. “There are places in this country where, if I got a job, I wouldn’t take it. I wouldn’t travel with my kids to some parts of America, and that’s really problematic.”
Explains Theron, 42, “There are a lot of times when I look at my kids and I’m like, ‘If this continues, I might have to .’ Because the last thing I want is for my children to feel unsafe.”
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The Atomic Blonde star reveals that while her children are still young, they definitely talk about the challenges in their world — and how to build their character.
“I want them to know who they are, and I want them to be so f—ing proud of who they are,” says Theron. “Building confidence for them right now is an oath I made to myself when I brought them home. They need to know where they come from and be proud of that.”
She explains, “But they’re going to have to know that it’s a different climate for them than it is for me, and how unfair that is. If I can do something about that, of course I’m going to.”
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Theron admits that while she has “bad days” and will “make mistakes” as a parent (“Going through the tantrum stages when they’re such little a—holes,” she says), she doesn’t regret one second of becoming a single mom.
Luckily, she has a “village” to help her raise her children, including one nanny, “amazing friends and family” and her mother who lives just down the street.
“I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was going to do this as a single parent,” says Theron. “To not acknowledge her in co-parenting my children would be a lie. She has jokingly said, ‘Being a grandparent is what I was born to do.’ ”
Adds the star, “I was like, ‘Yo, bitch! What about me? Was it not to raise me? I’m your kid!’ But I’m so lucky to have that. I would feel pretty alone if I didn’t have a partner in crime in all of this.”
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Theron has learned not to be afraid to ask for help, but admits she has dealt with the masses when it comes to unsolicited parenting advice.
“I’ve had a lot of moms come up to me and tell me I’m screwing everything up,” she says. “Both my kids grew up on formula, and I remember a mom saying to me, ‘You should really buy breast milk.’ And I was like, ‘What?!’ That’s a line you just don’t cross.”
“My oldest just started big school. She’s not even there a full year. So I’ve not gotten into the whole school thing yet,” Theron shares. “The good thing about me is, I’ve never given a s— about what people think. That’s the only quality I have that has probably helped me in being a mother.”
Tully opens May 4 in theaters nationwide.