By Gwendolyn Rahn
Updated Aug 07, 2014 @ 7:14 am
Charlize Theron Birthday
Credit: CAMERA PRESS/RETNA; Mike Marsland/WireImage

Happy birthday, Charlize Theron! The South African beauty and former InStyle cover girl, known for a multitude of captivating performances in challenging roles, turns 39 today.

The screen maven earned a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a serial killer in 2003’s thriller Monster and since then she has continued to wow critics with roles in such movies as Young Adult (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe) and the fairy tale revitalization Snow White and the Huntsman.

When Theron isn’t commanding the spotlight on the big screen or turning heads in Christian Dior J’adore campaigns, she finds reprieve in humanitarian activities. A celebrated purveyor of efforts to combat HIV and AIDS, the actress created The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project in 2007 to raise support and awareness among African youth in the fight against the disease.

With the support of her handsome fellow A-lister beau Sean Penn (can you say Hollywood power couple?) and son Jackson (whom she adopted in 2012), the actress has two big upcoming movies: self-produced film adaptation of the mystery novel Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) is slated to hit theaters in October and action-thriller Mad Max: Fury Road starring Tom Hardy and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley will follow in 2015.