Charlize Theron is from an Afrikaner family, and her ancestry includes Dutch as well as French and German; her French forebears were early Huguenot settlers in South Africa
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, Transvaal Province, South Africa, on August 7, 1975. Her parents were co-owners of a road construction company, Charles and Gerda Theron. The Afrikaans-speaking family lived on a working farm outside of Johannesburg. The Theron household was an unhappy one, and as Charles struggled with alcoholism, he became physically abusive. On 21 June 1991, Theron's father threatened both teenaged Charlize and her mother while drunk, physically attacking her mother and shooting a gun at both of them. Theron watched as Gerda retrieved her own handgun, shot and killed Charles; the murder was deemed an act of self-defense, and Gerda was never charged with a crime. In the wake of the death, Gerda assumed ownership of the company, and Theron concocted a story that her father had been the victim of a lethal car accident.
Although seeing herself as a dancer, Theron at 16 won a one-year modelling contract at a local competition in Salerno and with her mother moved to Milan, Italy. After Theron spent a year modelling throughout Europe, she and her mother moved to the United States, both New York City and Miami.
In 2007, Theron became a naturalized citizen of the United States, while retaining her South African citizenship.