Thandie Newton likes playing dress up: First Condoleezza Rice in 2008′s W., now Cleopatra! The British actress took on the iconic Egyptian queen to launch this year’s Virgin Media Shorts competition, which champions undiscovered U.K. film talent. Donning a snake headdress and Cleopatra’s trademark kohl-rimmed eyes, Newton, who will also help judge the contest, paid homage to silent screen star Theda Bera (right), who played Cleopatra in a 1917 film. “We wanted to commemorate one of the early legends like Theda Bara—she was a true, avant-garde screen heroine,” said Newton. “Her spirit and passion is what I’ll be looking for as a judge.” Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London later this year.