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Charlize Theron's daughters' very different upbringing explained

The Fast X actress adopted her two children 

Charlize Theron arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012
Hannah Hargrave
US Deputy Editor
June 3, 2023
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Charlize Theron has a celebrated career as an Oscar-winning actress, but nothing makes her prouder than raising her two children.

The star is a mom to August, seven, and Jackson, eleven, who she is building a life with in Los Angeles and their start in life is very different from her own. 

Charlize - who is incredibly close to her mom Gerda - grew up on a farm outside of the South African city of Johannesburg. 

WATCH: Charlize Theron shares rare video of her two daughters

"I didn't grow up in America," she told Harper's Bazaar, as she discussed the difficulties of raising two children stateside. "My education was just so different than what my kids are having in America."

Charlize grew up during Apartheid, which shaped her childhood and impacted her political views. She confessed she was surrounded by "turmoil" as a youngster.

MORE: Charlize Theron's staggering net worth will leave you lost for words

SEE: Charlize Theron's teen throwback photo from the 90s 

Tragically, her mother also killed Charlize's alcoholic father after he came home and fired a shotgun through the door at them both. In 2004, she told ABC: "I know that if my daughter was in the same situation, I would do the same thing." 

charlize theron daughters© Photo: Instagram
Charlize adopted both of her children

Charlize's mom recognized the need to escape South Africa and they left their home country and moved to Italy, when she was 16 - something she's forever grateful for. "A model scout from an agency saw me in Johannesburg when I was 16 and it came at a perfect time for me," she told Indie London. 

"It was a chance to escape and, fortunately, I had a mother who realized what was happening in South Africa and how it was becoming less safe. She encouraged me to get out and do something with my life. I started to travel and see the world."

charlize theron children© Photo: Instagram
She's raising her children in Los Angeles

She is now worth a staggering $170 million and while her career and her work as an activist were her babies for the longest time, in 2012 she became a mom.

MORE: Charlize Theron stuns as she channels Elizabeth Hurley in show-stopping split dress

Charlize adopted her daughter Jackson from her home country. Three years later, the Mad Max: Fury Road actress expanded her family again, adopting August in 2015.

Charlize Theron grew up in South Africa - pictured at 16© Getty Images
Charlize grew up in South Africa - pictured at 16

 The star opened up to People in 2018 about her decision to adopt. "Even when I was in relationships, I was always honest with my partners, that adoption was how my family would look one day," Charlize said. "This was definitely not a second option for me. It was always my first."

She's also spoken candidly about parenting two Black daughters. "I want them to know who they are, and I want them to be so [expletive] proud of who they are," she said. "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. 

Charlize Theron looks incredible at the premiere© Getty Images
Charlize moved away from her home country of South Africa

"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."

The mom of two is an advocate for better representation in Hollywood and while speaking on Variety's podcast, she said she wants her daughters to "grow up in a world where they see themselves." Adding: "I want to surround them in a world where they feel they belong and they can shine and they can live to their full potential.

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