Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, South Africa. An only child of mother Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz and father Charles Jacobus Theron. Her first language is Afrikaans but she became fluent in English at the age of 19 when she studied at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. Before becoming an actress, Theron aimed to be a ballet dancer. She appeared in productions of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker but a knee injury prevented her from continuing her dance career. She won an Oscar for her performance in Monster where she portrayed prostitute-turned-serial killer, Aileen Wuornos. This made her the first South African-born woman to win an Academy Award. She often takes production roles in films that she stars in. These include Monster, Sleepwalking, The Burning Plain and Young Adult.