Angelina Jolie: an Unlikely Philanthropist
While some actresses are spending millions for publicists and agents to take care of their goody-two-shoes reputation, Angelina does the things she wants no matter how abominable they are to the horrified public, and still remain famous.
Nothing could seem to dislodge her from her stardom pedestal. It is no secret that Angelina went through a difficult childhood. She was emotionally unstable and even had that scary countenance. Being the daughter of a superstar did not excuse her from insecurities and hurt caused by her parents’ divorce.
Fast forward to the time she started her own family. Angelina became an esteemed Goodwill Ambassador. She, of all people, became the mouthpiece of the taken for granted refugees. We find her globe-trotting not to promote movies or shoot films. She travels for a worthy cause. How did all these happen?
Angelina Jolie’s Early Biography
The love of acting is running in Angelina’s veins. Having a famous movie star father, Jon Voight, and a student actress mother, Marcheline Bertrand, Angelina is just destined to act. Angelina Jolie Voight was born in Los Angeles, California next to her two-year older brother James Haven on 4 June 1975. Unfortunately, her parents’ marriage did not last long.
Jon and Marcheline separated in 1976 with Angelina yet to turn a year old. Her father’s extramarital affair was too much for Marcheline to handle. She opted to abandon her dream of becoming an actress and instead focused on raising her two kids when Jon took off with another woman.
Growing up without a father by her side scarred Angelina for life. As a child, she often doodled morbid images on her notes. Angelina had difficulty understanding and coping with her volatile emotions. Even so, she loved playing as an actress.
When doing role-plays with her brother, Angelina would often be the actress and James would be the cameraman. She was highly perceptive for a child and developed a skill in inventing stuff. Jon cast seven–year–old Angelina in his 1982 film, “Lookin’ to Get Out.” It was Angelina’s first experience in acting. She played the role of her father’s daughter.
Contrary to what most might think, Angelina’s passion for acting was not influenced by her father. Her mother would often take the young Angelina with her to the movies. Those times being with Marcheline watching movies struck a familiar cord in Angelina.
Angelina’s Sick Childhood and Teenage Years
Growing up with an absentee father, Angelina felt unloved. Her mother remarried and Angelina’s estrangement from her father became worse as she went through adolescence. She grew up to be one disturbed teen.
Her mother allowed her to co-habit with her first boyfriend at the age of 14. That’s the least way her mother could protect her eccentric daughter. Rather than have her do self-destructive things outside their home, she let Angelina and her teenage boyfriend live under the same roof with her.
Marcheline’s maternal instinct proved to be right. Angelina was fascinated with knives and always slept with one under her pillow. She collected knives while girls her age talked about ordinary girly stuff. Angelina’s behavior alarmed her mother so she urged her to attend an acting school, the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, to somehow divert her attention.
Angelina’s penchant for knives would soon endanger her life. She cut herself and her boyfriend during a heightened sexual intercourse. Being the unstable kid that she was, she decided to drop out of acting school and pursue a career to become a funeral director. She took a course in funeral directing and received modules.
While all that is happening, Angelina also accepted modeling gigs in Los Angeles, New York, and London. At 16, she broke up with her live-in partner. She hit the books and graduated from Beverly Hills High School a year and a half early. Angelina was often picked on while she was in high school being a thin girl who wore braces and glasses, definitely not looking like the superstar’s daughter that she really is.
Angelina went back to acting school after completing high school. However, her personal issues remained unresolved. She still kept knives and experimented on drugs. By the time she turned 20, Angelina had tried almost every kind of drug there is. She was a total mess. Angelina’s queer hobby of inflicting harm on herself seemed to be caused by her wanting to just cease to exist.
Angelina Starts Making Movies
Angelina’s strained relationship with her father led her to enter show business without making use of his influence. She even went as far as dropping her last name to avoid any association with Jon. From then on, she would be known as Angelina Jolie. In 2002 the screen name Angelina Jolie became her legal name upon having her request for name change in July finalized in September.
In 1993, Angelina Jolie then officially became a bonafide actress in Cyborg 2 where she played the part of an almost-human robot whose mission was to find out as much information as possible about her maker’s rival company. After her mission gets accomplished, she was to self-detonate. That role did not do much help in launching her as a legitimate actress though.
Cyborg 2 was such a disappointment for Angelina that she stopped auditioning for a year. She decided to take a break from work and did her brother favors by appearing in his student films and in some music videos. During some less strained moments with Jon, daughter and father discovered that their love of acting connects them.
Angelina learned a few tips about acting from her father, such as carefully observing how random people behave. Her momentary break from the limelight exposed her to a whole new acting method and discipline.
List of Angelina’s Movies and Love Affairs
Feeling much more confident, she gave acting a shot once more. She auditioned and was offered two movies in 1995: “Hackers” and “Without Evidence.” Angelina played a sulky teenager in the movie, “Hackers.” Of all the characters, it was Angelina who captured the interest of the critics. She didn’t have to exert much effort to play the part of Kate "Acid Burn" Libby convincingly.
However, the film was not as lucky as it did not do well in cinemas. What it achieved though was a cult following after it left the theaters. It was in that movie that she met the man who would become her first Hollywood flame.
Jonny Lee Miller met Angelina on the set of “Hackers.” After the filming, Jonny had to go back to London and he and Angelina maintained a long-distance relationship for a year. Surprisingly, the relationship survived and the two tied the knot on March 28, 1996. Angelina, thirsting for a man’s affection since childhood, seemed content and happy with Jonny.
Angelina was getting roles that seem to stereotype her as a gothic obsessed character. Such was the image she had when she played the role of Margret "Legs" Sadovsky in “Foxfire.” There, she depicted the life of one of the molested students who ganged up with their teacher’s other victims.
Anything ordinary bored the young and still wild Angelina. Prior to her marriage she had a homosexual relationship with Jenny Shimizu, one of her co-stars in “Foxfire.” Marrying Jonny saved her from being dubbed a lesbian. Again, her role as “Legs” was praised and she slowly earned the respect of fellow actors and actresses.
In 1997, Angelina portrayed Cornelia Wallace in the TV movie, “George Wallace.” It was totally out of her league, which all the more impressed everybody who saw Angelina play a more mature role. She did quite spectacularly earning Angelina her first Golden Globe Award and Emmy nomination.
The TV movie “Gia” soon followed in 1998. Angelina reportedly turned it down four times. She felt uncomfortable to play Gia Marie Carangi due to the character’s personal struggles which seemed too familiar to her. She was threatened by the late Gia’s personality. Angelina felt that playing her would be like going through all the hardships she had been through all over again Gia’s character reminded her of the monsters inside her she’d rather not confront.
After much deliberation though, the production team finally convinced Angelina that no one could play Gia better than her. Gia, a model in the late 60s, contracted AIDS due to heroin addiction. Angelina regaled the viewers with her stunning depiction in Gia’s biopic. She won her second Golden Globe trophy, earned a second Emmy nomination, and brought home a trophy from the Screen Actors Guild.
After “Gia,” Angelina took a break from acting. Playing the role of “Gia” taxed her to the brink of surrender. She released a statement that she gave “Gia” her all and she felt that after the film, she had nothing left to give. It wasn’t exactly a period of “rest” for Angelina. She still remained busy doing other things besides acting. For one, she earned a degree from New York University and she learned how to fly an aeroplane. That’s right, Angelina is a Licensed Private Pilot.
Angelina would later on share the biggest lesson she learned in acting. She told the wide-eyed acting students that her method of getting into the psyche of the characters she played way back as a Hollywood newbie, physically and mentally drained her which resulted in frequent headaches and mood swings.
As a budding actress, she felt that in order to be effective, she must be in character 100 percent of the time while shooting, a method she learned in acting school. She would wake up and did what the character she was playing does, talked the way her character does, and thought the way her character does.
Her then-husband Jonny would call her and she would antagonistically tell him to leave her alone, or that she’s dying, or gay, taking her cue from the character of Gia. In hindsight, she discouraged would-be actors/actresses from practicing such method and suggested a better way to do it.
It took time before she realized that it’s more favorable to have a “light morning” and go to the set then get into her character a good 15 minutes before the actual filming. We couldn’t really blame showbiz neophytes not to take Angelina’s word for it. We see an Angelina here who does not hesitate to speak her mind even if that meant going against the teachings of the institution which taught her.
After three years of marriage, Angelina and Jonny soon outgrew their romance. The young couple divorced on February 3, 1999. They separated amicably and remained friends up to now.
Perhaps Angelina would always be famously remembered for her performance as Lisa Rowe, a sociopath in the movie, “Girl, Interrupted.” The 1999 movie was supposed to be a come-back production for Winona Ryder. It instead defined Angelina as an actress and earned her accolades. She received nominations and took home the trophies in the Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actress), Screen Actors Guild Award, and Golden Globe Awards.
It was clear to everyone how formidable a presence Angelina is in the movie industry. The character she played couldn’t fit her more aptly in Lisa’s eerie personality. Her portrayal was so outstanding that she upstaged the movie’s lead star.
Since her rise to stardom, Angelina became the hottest item in the show business scene. Her antics fascinated and shocked people. She had this honesty in her that made her adorable despite her peculiar and over-the-top behavior.
Angelina created frenzy in Hollywood when she torridly kissed her brother on the lips right in front of cameras during an awards night. It was then believed that Angelina was having an incestuous affair with James. The ever cool Angelina just laughed the rumors off. She did not feel compelled to justify her actuations saying that it was a very happy moment and she kissed her brother out of sheer delight to show how grateful she was to him.
Angelina is Angelina. She never shies away from controversy. Nothing keeps her from telling the truth, and apparently, that’s all there is to it.
Her second marriage was to Billy Bob Thornton whom she met in the scene of “Pushing Tin.” She played the part of Billy’s seductive wife and on May 5, 2000, the marriage became a real deal when the two got hitched after a courtship of two months.
Their romance was not spared from controversy, either. Before meeting Angelina on the set, Billy was engaged to Laura Dern. It took Laura aback when she heard about Billy’s marriage to Angelina. She was, as it looked, the last to hear about their whirlwind romance.
The honest to goodness Angelina though later on said that she would never do such a thing as breaking couples apart because she herself had been a victim of a wrecked marriage due to a high-profile illicit affair.
Angelina and Billy’s marriage was drenched in sensationalism. They challenged the norm by wearing vials with each other’s blood in them as a public display of their oneness. When it comes to novel ways of shocking the world, trust Angelina to top it.
There was no denying that Angelina had earned the reputation of a gothic and punk actress married to an equally punk husband. Needless to say, Angelina and Billy was a match made in heaven. But even a relationship as perfect as theirs was shaken when Angelina went to Cambodia and had a change of heart.
Angelina had already established a name in Hollywood. She was the actress who best translated “Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider” onto the big screen. Director Simon West told the producers of the legendary Angelina and got them to change the supposedly male character into a femme fatale.
Angelina, to their bewilderment, was not at all impressed and felt rather offended when they offered her the role. She still had that punk attitude in her but the idea of doing a sci-fi donned in a two-piece ensemble does not fit her idea of “coolness.”
The producers did not give up. They had already given a lot of thought to this project and they could not afford not to push through with it. They kept wooing Angelina and eventually won her approval by wowing her of the perks that went with the playing of Lara Croft. It would include rigorous training and spending time with troops in Southeast Asia. It appealed to the adventurous side of Angelina.
Becoming a Philanthropist
Soon, “Lara Croft” was out on theaters making history with its total gross of 275 million dollars. Instead of feeling good about it, Angelina’s short stay in Cambodia dampened her spirit. It was in Cambodia where she witnessed poverty first-hand. Seeing children with mutilated bodies shocked the stoic Angelina. She couldn’t believe that the war was still being fought in some countries.
She was overwhelmed with the fact that some millions of people are still finding their way back home, a home which is nowhere. She saw the plight of refugees and was impassioned by their will to live and fight for their rights as a people. Then the reality hit her.
While she thought she was living the worst life, more people were facing problems bigger than hers. It shamed her thinking of how she reacted to petty issues that groped her more comfortable life. She was so overcome by grief and compassion that she couldn’t go back home and resume living in Hollywood without doing something.
She did not waste time and promptly got in touch with United Nations who willingly furnished her with modules and readings about refugees. Angelina went home a changed woman. Her relatively short trip added years to her emotional maturity.
After becoming more knowledgeable about refugees, she became more determined to do something to alleviate the problems displaced people are facing. She flew to Sierre Leone and Tanzania in her own expense and lived the life of UN workers and volunteers.
Angelina was named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on August 27, 2001. Angelina’s social work brought her to the neediest population and she saw what fellow Hollywood stars were not privileged to see—life in its simplest form. Life minus the glamour.
It came as a shock to Angelina when she learned about the number of people dying of AIDS every year in Africa. She would since then visit the Congress to lobby for bills that will favor and make life easier for refugees and other marginalized people.
Angelina Begins Adopting Babies
When filming the sequel of “Lara Croft (Cradle of Life),” Angelina went back to Cambodia. She was contemplating adoption. Angelina was certain that somebody, a close family, awaited her in Cambodia. Angelina and her team were down to their last orphanage scouting for a baby when they found barely a year-old Rath Vibol.
The baby was sound asleep and he didn’t even stir when put in Angelina’s arms. So serene was his sleep that Angelina thought he was ill or something. Then the baby woke up, looked into Angelina’s eyes, and smiled. It touched Angelina to tears. She found the family she came for in Cambodia.
On March 10, 2002 Rath Vibol was legally adopted by Angelina and she named him Maddox Chivan Jolie. Yes, Angelina adopted him as a single parent.
It was as if she knew that her marriage to Billy Bob would be no more following Maddox’s presence in their lives. The couple was divorced on May 27, 2003 with Angelina saying that they just grew apart one morning and they became two totally different people. Like in the case of her separation from Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob and Angelina parted ways as friends.
With Maddox now in her life, Angelina went into a drastic transformation. Before Maddox came, Angelina would always walk the red carpet in gothic fashion. Her maternal experience seemed to knock some sense into her prompting her wild alter ego to take a backseat. Angelina went from weird to glamorous.
Brangelina Surfaces Following the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston Divorce
Angelina’s life couldn’t be more complete. After Maddox’s adoption, Angelina told the press that she did not need a man to make her happy. Obviously, nothing prepared Angelina for Brad Pitt’s coming into her life. In 2005, Angelina accepted an offer to play the role of Jane Smith in Doug Liman’s film, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”
In the film, a couple is going through a rough time in their married life both suspecting each other of having extra-marital affairs only to find out later on that they were both assassins and their next target was their spouse.
At first, the script was a bit too much for Angelina who was not comfortable delivering punch lines. Like “Lara Croft,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” became a blockbuster hit. Everybody was enthralled seeing Angelina with Brad who that time was having marital issues with then-wife America’s Sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston. Angelina would again be bombarded with accusations of home-wrecking when Brad and Jennifer publicly announced their divorce.
For Angelina who admitted inevitably falling for every man she works with on the set, it did not come as a surprise when paparazzi spotted her, Brad, and Maddox having a private holiday. Brad was acting the role of a father in Angelina’s “family.” As it turned out, Angelina and Brad shared the same desire of having a large family.
More Babies for Angelina and Brad
In 2005, the couple went to Africa to adopt another child to add to their growing family. Yemsrach would soon be known as Zahara Marley, their second child and first daughter. The following year, Brad would work on adopting both of Angelina’s children as the couple now officially lived as partners.
Brad’s divorce with Jennifer and his rebound relationship with Angelina was all everybody could talk about. The unmoved Angelina went on with her life, now including Brad, and kept doing her work in UNHCR. Having found a partner in Brad, the couple started the Maddox Jolie-Pitt foundation in 2003 and soon got into a lot of fundraising projects for worthy causes, such as building hospitals and promoting refugee awareness.
Meanwhile, Angelina’s career was looking as good as ever. She was again nominated in her recent flick with Johnny Depp in the movie, “The Tourist.” Her role in UNHCR was also praised and she became the first recipient of the Global Humanitarian Award.
Angelina and Brad, since then called Brangelina, happily announced that they were having a baby. Their first biological daughter and third among the brood was named Shiloh Nouvel. She was born on May 27, 2006 in Swakopmund.
Another adoption followed suit and preoccupied the power couple. The baby pictures were sold at millions of dollars and the proceeds went to their foundation. Three year-old Pax Thien joined the Jolie-Pitt family when his adoption was finalized on March 15, 2007.
As if four children were not enough, Angelina was ecstatic when she informed the press of her second pregnancy in 2008. She gave birth to twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline, on July 12, 2008 in Nice, France. Again, Brangelina sold baby pictures and donated the proceeds to Jolie-Pitt foundation.
The Proposal, Oscar Dress, and Award in 2012
Acting upon their children’s request, Brad proposed to Angelina in 2012. The couple is yet to decide when to hold the ceremony. That year was also memorable not only for Angelina and Brad but for the whole world who saw Angelina’s black Versace dress she wore in that year’s Oscar Awards. The dress went viral as she posed baring her right leg for the whole world to see and admire. It could have looked outrageous if weren’t Angelina doing the pose.
Since Angelina begun social work, she has received countless recognition for her philanthropic endeavors. She currently has Cambodian and Sarajevo nationality awarded to her by the government due to her work in their countries. Angelina, the suicidal, became recipient UNHCR Special Envoy of High Commissioner António Guterres on April 17, 2012.
Angelina Undergoes Double Mastectomy
Just recently, Angelina Jolie published an article about having both of her breasts removed to curtail chances of contracting breast cancer—the illness that took her mother’s life. She managed to keep it secret until the procedure was completely done. According to the doctors, she carries the gene BRCA1, which makes her 87% likely to develop breast cancer. After the operation, the chances of her getting breast cancer were decreased to 5%.
More than being an accomplished and respected actress, Angelina now finds meaning in her role in real life, a life she once detested. If Angelina succeeded in taking her life years ago, we would not have seen her become the philanthropist and hands-on mother she is now. Show business would not be as exciting without the once psychologically queer Angelina. If we lost her then, this world would be one less of a person with a heart far more legendary than her face.
Organisations and Campaigns Supported
- Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation
- Global Health Committee
- Jolie-Pitt Foundation
- Education Partnership for Children of Conflict
- Kids in Need of Defense
- Microsoft Corporation
- Doctors Without Borders
- Yéle Haiti Foundation
- Clean Streets Project
- Millennium Promise
- Millennium Villages
- Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation
- Muhammad Ali Center
- ONE Campaign
- Peace One Day
- Reporters Without Borders
- Sophie's Gift
- SOS Children's Villages
- UN Millennium Project
- Afghanistan Relief Organization
- Alliance for The Lost Boys Of Sudan
- Cancer Schmancer Movement
- Care to Learn
- Cinema for Peace
- Clinton Global Initiative
- Daniel Pearl Foundation
- Direct Change
- Global Action for Children
- HALO Trust
- Human Rights Watch
- 1997: Won a Golden Globe Award (George Wallace)
- 1997: Received an Emmy nomination (George Wallace)
- 1998: Won a Golden Globe Award (Gia)
- 1998: Received an Emmy nomination (Gia)
- 1998: Won the Screen Actors Guild Award (Gia)
- 1998: Received the Breakthrough Performance Award given by National Board of Review of Motion Pictures
- 1999: Won a Golden Globe Award (Girl, Interrupted)
- 1999: Won the Screen Actors Guild Award (Girl, Interrupted)
- 1999: Won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Girl, Interrupted)
- 2001: Became UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
- 2002: Received the Humanitarian Award from Church World Service's Immigration and Refugee Program
- 2003: Became the first to receive Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association
- 2003: Became one of Hollywood's Highest Paid Actresses
- 2003: Founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation
- 2005: Awarded a Cambodian citizenship by King Norodom Sihamoni
- 2005: Recipient of UNA-USA's Global Humanitarian Award
- 2005: Mr & Mrs Smith became the 7th Highest Grossing Film
- 2005: Spoke at the World Economic Forum
- 2006: One of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World
- 2006: Dubbed to be the favorite endorser for brands and products worldwide along with partner Brad Pitt
- 2006: Spoke at the World Economic Forum
- 2006: Co-founded the Maddox Chivan Children's Center
- 2006: Founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation
- 2007: Became a member of Council on Foreign Relations
- 2007: One of the founders of Education Partnership for Children of Conflict
- 2007: Given the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee
- 2008: One of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World
- 2008: Kung Fu Panda became the 3rd Highest Grossing Film
- 2008: Nominated Best Actress in the Academy Awards (Changeling)
- 2008: Nominated Best Actress in the Golden Globe Awards (Changeling)
- 2008: Nominated Best Actress in the Screen Actors Guild Award (Changeling)
- 2008: Nominated Best Actress in the BAFTA Award (Changeling)
- 2008: Helped establish the Kids in Need of Defense
- 2009: Cited by Forbes as the Highest Paid Actress
- 2009: No. 1 in the Celebrity 100 list of world's most powerful celebrities
- 2010: Nominated Best Actress in the Golden Globe Awards (The Tourist)
- 2010: Founded the Jolie Legal Fellows Programme
- 2011: Cited by Forbes as the Highest Paid Actress
- 2011: Directed In the Land of Blood and Honey
- 2011: Kung Fu Panda 2 became the 4th Grossing Film of the Year
- 2011: The Sarajevo government gave Jolie an honorary citizen award
- 2011: In the Land of Blood and Honey was awarded by Producers Guild of America with the Stanley Kramer Award
- 2011: In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- 2012: Promoted from Goodwill Ambassador to Special Envoy of High Commissioner António Guterres
- 2012: Named by People as one of the Most Beautiful at Every Age
- Licensed Private Pilot