Birthplace: Benoni, South Africa
Like several actresses currently gracing the silver screen, Theron got her start in modeling. The tall, stunning blond left South Africa at age 16, and headed to Milan, where she found limited success on the runway. She moved to New York two years later, where she continued to model. Not thrilled with the direction her career was headed, Theron returned to her childhood passion: ballet. She briefly danced with the Joffrey Ballet, but a knee injury ended her dancing career. She decided to try her hand at acting and bought a one-way ticket to Tinseltown. She auditioned for scores of commercials, but her big break eluded her. Her luck began to change when she landed a part in 1996's 2 Days in the Valley. Her performance caught the attention of Tom Hanks, who cast her in That Thing You Do! (1996). Her other credits include The Devil's Advocate (1997) Mighty Joe Young and The Cider House Rules. (1999), Men of Honor (2000), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001). Her role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the biopic Monster (2003) gained her a Best Actress Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a host of critics association awards. Her role as Josey Aimes in North Country (2005) netted her more accolades, including Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.