After her mother enters her in a modeling contest, Theron receives an offer from an Italian scout and heads to Milan. "I just ran," she tells PEOPLE. One year later, tired of being seen as "somebody beautiful who should not say a word," she moves to Manhattan and enrolls at the Joffrey Ballet School. A knee injury quickly ends her dancing days, so she decides to move to L.A. to pursue acting in 1994.
Charlize began her modeling career in 1991 aged 16 when she won a local modeling contest. She started modeling in Europe and came to New York a year later. She didn't like being a model though, and decided to try her luck with ballet, which had been her biggest passion as a child. Unfortunately, a knee injury prevented her from dancing. Her mother bought her a one-way ticket to Los Angeles in 1994 and Charlize started visiting all of the agents on Hollywood Boulevard but without any luck. She went to the bank to cash a check for $500 she'd got from her mother and became furious when she learned that the bank could not cash her check because it was an out-state check.