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What’s in a name? Ask Thandiwe Newton

April 6, 2021, 12:43 PM UTC
'Westworld' star Thandiwe Newton is reclaiming the "w" in her name.
Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic for HBO/Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Egypt’s first female ship captain gets caught up in Suez Canal fake news, Janet Yellen calls for a minimum global corporate tax rate, and Thandiwe Newton reclaims her name. Have a lovely Tuesday.

– Reclaiming a name. What is your relationship to your name?

We all have one. Maybe you love yours, or maybe you spent your childhood itching to get rid of it. Maybe you changed yours early—adopted a nickname or just went for something brand new. If you’re married, perhaps you took your partner’s last name—or you can’t imagine ever giving up your own. Certainly the question of how one relates to one’s name is universal, though, given women’s history with the expectation that we would eventually change ours to match our husband’s, I think it takes on an extra layer if you’re female.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the name iceberg. Our names are also heavy with historic and cultural context. If you missed it back in 2020, I recommend this Washington Post story about Black Americans striving to uncover the family names that were lost when their African ancestors were thrust into slavery. And even today, too many societies can’t seem to handle any name that it doesn’t fit neatly into its idea of “normal.” Just ask all the immigrants and children of immigrants around the globe who choose—or have been forced—to take a “less ethnic” name.

So, there’s a lot to parse in this new British Vogue interview with actor Thandiwe Newton, who you probably know by the first name, “Thandie.” In it, Newton talks about growing up in England, her experiences with motherhood, the racism she’s faced in the film industry and the press, and her devotion to speaking out as a survivor of sexual abuse. And we also learn that her name, Thandiwe, means beloved in Zulu, the language of her family; her mother is a Zimbabwean and Shona princess.

The story describes that “W” as “drift[ing] inward, out of sight and earshot, in a futile hope to make her feel less different” during Newton’s childhood in Cornwall—a place where, “we may as well have been the first Black people anyone had ever seen,” she says. And then it seems to have disappeared altogether when she started her film career. Vogue says “the W was carelessly missed out from her first credit;” Newton provided a bit more context on Twitter, where she said a director “asked to use my actual name for the character” and then “in the credits they used my ‘nickname’ to differentiate from the character name.”

A “W” might seem like a small thing. But we know it’s not—and so does Newton. At 48, she’s announced she’s reclaiming her name, and will be credited as Thandiwe in future projects.

“That’s my name. It’s always been my name,” says the actor. “I’m taking back what’s mine.”

Kristen Bellstrom

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Global tax rate. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen yesterday called for a global minimum corporate tax rate. She made the argument as the Biden administration proposes a higher corporate tax rate in the U.S. Wall Street Journal

- Righting the ship. Marwa Elselehdar is the first female ship captain in Egypt. Somehow, she started getting blamed online for blocking the Suez Canal when the Ever Given got stuck last month. The doctored, false article featuring her photo was shared widely on Facebook and Twitter. "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field," she says. BBC

- Congressional parallels. Katie Hill resigned from Congress after a scandal in which she was the victim of cyber exploitation. Rep. Matt Gaetz was one of few lawmakers to defend her; the pair had developed an unlikely bipartisan friendship after serving on a House committee together. Now, Gaetz is accused of the same crime. Hill writes about her complicated feelings here, and says Gaetz must resign if "there is even a fraction of truth" to the reports. Vanity Fair

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Credit Suisse chief risk and compliance officer Lara Warner will depart the bank following major losses from Archegos Capital and Greensill Capital. Burger King named Popeyes global CMO Paloma Azulay global chief brand officer. Amazon Web Services exec Teresa Carlson will join data analytics company Splunk as president and chief growth officer. Christy Gleason, an adviser to Sen. Chris Coons, will become executive director of the Save the Children Action Network. Marta Belcher, formerly an attorney in Ropes & Gray LLP's intellectual property litigation and data practice groups, will be general counsel and head of policy at Protocol Labs. 


- Vetoed, but not over. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed the state's anti-transgender legislation that would prohibited doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to trans kids under 18. Hutchinson, though he said he believed the bill was "well-intentioned," called it a "vast government overreach." The state's Republican legislature, however, may still override the governor's veto. CNN

- Labor law. The National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon violated labor law when the company fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, two user experience designers who had raised concerns about the treatment of warehouse workers. The NLRB plans to file a complaint if Amazon doesn't settle the case; Amazon has said it fired the engineers for "repeatedly violating internal policies." Fortune

- Fertility equality. Tammy Sun is the cofounder and CEO of Carrot Fertility. In a new op-ed for Fortune, she argues that "equal pay" won't be equal until employers cover fertility care for their employees—since women right now often bear the cost of those treatments. Fortune


Stanford holds off Arizona 54-53 to win women’s NCAA title AP

Lena Dunham and the Spanx liberation movement New York Times

I received tips to look into how a hospital treated premature babies. Getting data was nearly impossible ProPublica

Corsets are back, thanks to Bridgerton and party fever Wall Street Journal


"We can’t stop until every woman who wants a job has a good job."

-Vice President Kamala Harris, in a Twitter thread about the American Rescue Plan, American Jobs Plan, and women