Thompson and Tindy first met at a Christmas celebration at the Refugee Council when he was 16 years old.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 14, 2022. It has since been updated.
Emma Thompson has a wonderful life. The mom of two often talks about parenthood and the lessons she has learned from her kids. A humanitarian at heart and in action, she adopted Tindyebwa Agaba Wise, a Rwandan refugee, back in 2003. In an interview with New Yorker, Thompson shared a hilarious anecdote about her adopted son. Tindyebwa, who also goes by Tindy, didn't know the extent of his mother's popularity until over a year after meeting her. In 2004, Tindy discovered Thompson's fame while taking a Shakespeare course at City and Islington College. His teacher had shown the class Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing." He was "absolutely shocked" to see so many recognizable faces on television, including Thompson herself, her mother Phyllida Law and actress Imelda Staunton.
“I went to my teacher and said, ‘How was this film made? Because I know these people,’” he recalls saying to his teacher. The teacher initially apparently laughed it off and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. These are famous actors.” Tindy shared that his teacher “couldn’t believe a word I was saying.” The following week, his teacher brought in the Daily Mirror and inquired if it was him in the picture showing him leaving Thompson's house on a bike. “That was how I got to know that my mother was somehow well known. I had no idea,” admitted Tindy. Tindy obtained British citizenship in 2009 and is married to He Zhang. He has worked as a detective in London's Criminal Investigation Division and has a Master's degree in human rights law. He spent over a decade working for human rights activism.
'The Rwanda scheme is eye-wateringly mad and callous'.— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 9, 2022
Actress Dame Emma Thompson, who has an adopted son from Rwanda, tells Sky's @BethRigby that the government's approach to the migration scheme does not reflect 'the soul of this country'.#Rigby: https://t.co/KAjrDE7Ihx pic.twitter.com/31t7GB8UB2
The 63-year-old Oscar winner opened up about the first encounter with Tindy that ended up turning into one of the most significant relationships in her life. In 2003, Tindy, who was 16 at the time, met Thompson at a Christmas celebration at the Refugee Council, a patron organization for Thompson that helps refugees and asylum seekers.
Although he only spoke a few words of English and French, he wanted to thank Thompson for the hot dinner. He had been sleeping outside near London's Trafalgar Square because of an error with his application for government assistance. “His spirit was there to be seen—so clearly—in his eyes. He was alive to everything, though at the same time silent,” Thompson recalled of their mostly visual conversation. She added, “He saw something in me he wanted to talk to.”
When Tindy met the actress and her husband, he recalled feeling that he “didn’t have anything to give” to Thompson and Wise. “What hasn’t he given!” Thompson disagreed with Tindy, vehemently. “So much joy, so much insight to share in his empathy and his understanding of the world. We laugh—and he helps me to laugh—at the weirdness of people, at the strangeness of life, at its cruelties and absurdities. It’s such a comfort.”
Thompson gives Tindy credit for her own personal transformation, claiming that he has “been part of the healing.” She said, “I’ve been told I was a fierce and restless octopus. But they have three hearts and only live for two years. So now I’m in search of a more peaceful existence where I’m not so angry and my one heart will last a bit longer.”