Charlize Theron attends the world premiere of Snow White and the Huntsman at Empire Leicester Square on May 14, 2012 in London, England. Credit: Mike Marsland/

New mom Charlize Theron didn't always have a reason to smile.

The Oscar winner, 36, tells British paper The Sun her "early childhood was quite devastating" because she "had no teeth until I was 11."

Because she "had jaundice as a kid," the Snow White and the Huntsman actress "was put on so many antibiotics that my teeth rotted. They had to cut them out."

"So I never had milk teeth. That was tough, you know, being in school having photos taken while I was pretending I had teeth," Theron recalls. "It was hideous."

Years later, when she was 16, Theron -- bearing a dazzling smile at last -- was discovered by a modeling scout. "It was totally by mistake. My mother thought it would be a funny joke. Modeling was never a passion of mine, but it was this incredible opportunity."

"I grew up in South Africa and I would look at maps and we were at the bottom of the world. There was this whole thing up there. I was always reading encyclopedias about the world. So travel was something I was always attracted to. So when the scout said, 'You can go to Milan!' I was like, 'Ah, hi!' . . . I hadn't even been on a plane prior to that."

In her interview with The Sun, Theron also opens up about her son Jackson, who she adopted in mid-March. "I've never felt more creative and with more energy but on the tiniest amount of sleep. I never knew I needed that little sleep. I always had eight hours and now it's, 'Wow, OK, you can function on just four.' But Jackson is great. I've always been very aware of balance and, even before I had a child, my life always takes priority to my work."

The Prometheus actress added: "I feel very blessed that I have this job but my job is not my life. I'm really lucky that I get to go and do this, but my life is pretty kick-ass, and I take real priority in that."