Uma Karuna Thurman (born April 29, 1970) is an American actress and model. She has performed in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies. Among her best-known roles are those in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction (for which she received an Oscar nomination) and Kill Bill. In 2002 she won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Hysterical Blindness.
Thurman was born in Boston to Nena von Schlebrügge and Robert Thurman, and grew up mostly in Amherst, Massachusetts and Woodstock, New York. Her father gave his children a Buddhist upbringing, and she is named after an Dbuma Chenpo (in Tibetan, the "db" is silent; from Mahamadhyamaka in Sanskrit, meaning "Great Middle Way"). Regarding religion, she now calls herself agnostic. She has three brothers, Ganden (b. 1971), Dechen (b. 1973), and Mipam (b. 1978), and a half-sister named Taya (b. 1960), from her father's previous marriage. She and her siblings spent time in Almora, India, during childhood, and the Dalai Lama sometimes visited their home. She is described as having been an awkward and introverted girl who was teased for her tall frame, angular bone structure, enormous feet and unusual name (sometimes using the name “Uma Karen” instead of her birth name). When she was 10 years old, a friend's mother suggested a nose job. As a child, she suffered bouts of body dysmorphic disorder, which she discussed in an interview with Talk magazine in 2001. She attended Amherst Public Schools. In the 8th grade she discovered her love for acting. Talent scouts noticed her performance as Abigail in a production of The Crucible, and offered her the chance to act professionally. Thurman attended Northfield Mount Hermon School, an elite preparatory school in Massachusetts, before dropping out to pursue a career in acting.
Thurman's mother, Nena von Schlebrügge, was a model born in Mexico City in 1941. Thurman's maternal grandfather was Colonel Baron Friedrich Karl Johannes von Schlebrügge, a German military officer who had become one of the senior Nazi spies in the Americas but who was also jailed by the Nazis for protecting Jewish friends. Thurman's maternal grandmother was Swedish-born Birgit Holmquist, from Trelleborg, who in 1930 modelled for a nude statue that overlooks the harbor of Smygehuk, Sweden (Birgit's father was Swedish and her mother was of German and Danish descent). Thurman's mother was introduced to LSD guru Timothy Leary by Salvador Dalí and became Leary's third wife in 1964. She wed Thurman's father, Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman (b. August 3, 1941), in 1967; he was born in New York City, to Elizabeth Dean Farrar, a stage actress, and Beverly Reid Thurman, Jr., an Associated Press editor and United Nations translator. He was professor of religion at Amherst College from 1973 to 1988, when he accepted a position at Columbia University, where he was a professor of Tibetan Buddhism. Robert Thurman was the first Westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.