Meet Thandiwe Newton’s mini-me daughter Nico Parker: the star of Disney’s Dumbo idolises Zendaya and scored acting gigs with Hugh Jackman and Jude Law – but how did a stuffed toy help her win a role?

Thandiwe Newton’s daughter Nico Parker is also an actress. Photos: Getty

Nico Parker, 17, is more than just the spitting image of her mum Thandiwe Newton. Ever since she made her film debut in Disney’s Dumbo in 2019, she has carved out a burgeoning career of her own and acted with the biggest names in Hollywood.

Director Oliver Parker and his daughters Nico and Ripley Parker; he married Thandiwe Newton in 1998. Photo: Reuters
Nico made a rare red carpet appearance with her dad, director Ol Parker, and elder sister Ripley Parker at the premiere of Ticket to Paradise. The film was directed by Ol, stars award-winning actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and is set for release in October.

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Nico Parker at the Ticket To Paradise premiere in London earlier in September – the young actress looks a lot like her mum Thandiwe Newton. Photo: Getty Images

At the event, Nico glammed up in a floor-length forest green gown that brought out her light-coloured eyes. Proving that less is more, she kept her jewellery to a minimum with only gold rings and a bracelet around her mid-forearm.

As she comes into her own, here’s what we know about Nico and why she’s poised for stardom …

She acted with a stuffed polar bear for her Dumbo audition

Like her mother Thandiwe Newton, Nico Parker doesn’t read negative comments on social media about herself. Photo: Reuters

Parker made her foray into acting by doing it the old-fashioned way: filming a tape for audition.


With the help of her dad, she impressed Dumbo director Tim Burton by acting out a test scene in front of a stuffed polar bear on the kitchen floor in her London home, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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She doesn’t take advice from her mum

Nico Parker is only 17, but already has several major acting roles under her belt. Photo: @nicoparkerofficial/Instagram

One would assume that Parker gets a lot of tips on acting given that her mum is an award-winning actress. However, that’s not the case. When she filmed Dumbo at London’s Pinewood studios, she said she’d eschewed parental guidance and trusted her own instincts instead.

“When it came to acting, I didn’t really want advice,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was very much my own experience.”

Nico Parker and Thandiwe Newton attend the Dumbo European premiere together in London, in 2019. Photo: WireImage

However, she heeded her father’s advice on how to remember people’s names on set – an important courtesy in the industry. “Say the name in your head three times and trace the way the name is spelt on your leg three times,” she told the publication.

She already has an impressive – and growing – acting résumé

Nico Parker said she wants to carve out her own acting path rather than taking tips from mum Thandiwe Newton. Photo: Handout

After Dumbo, Parker appeared in three episodes of the HBO miniseries The Third Day (2020) alongside Naomie Harris and Jude Law.

She also played a part in the sci-fi film Reminiscence (2021), which starred her mum, Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson.
Freya Allan as Kail and Nico Parker as Ellie in The Third Day. Photo: Handout

She’s also set to join the cast of the upcoming television drama that’s based on a computer game The Last of Us in a guest role, starring as Sarah Miller, the daughter of Pedro Pascal’s character Joel.

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She’s very careful on social media

Nico Parker poses with a Celine bag but keeps it casual with an oversized sweatshirt in her local park. Photo: @nicoparkerofficial/Instagram

In an interview with Glamour UK, she recognised the influence of social media and how it can affect people, and said she’s therefore very careful about what she puts out.

She also steers clear from Instagram “a little bit” to avoid reading hate comments, adding, “It can be a bit overwhelming because it’s all you can focus on.” She learned this trick from her mum, who she said “doesn’t read anything for herself” and “literally has no idea what goes on”.

She looks up to Zendaya

Nico Parker sent a congratulatory text to Zendaya after she won an Emmy for Euphoria in 2020, and said she looks up to the actress. Photo: WireImage
Other than her mum, Parker finds inspiration from other biracial actors, especially Zendaya, whom she says she first saw in Shake It Up.

As per Variety, Nico congratulated Zendaya through text when she won the Emmy in 2020 as lead drama actress for Euphoria. She said Zendaya responded and considered it an “incredibly big moment in my life” because she thinks the actress is so cool. “She’s a powerhouse,” she added.

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  • The 17 year old wore a velvet gown to the premiere of her director dad’s film Ticket to Paradise starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts – and looked just like her mum
  • Since her big debut in Tim Burton’s Dumbo, she’s been in Reminiscence, The Third Day, and is set to appear in upcoming The Last of Us