I had my typin’ fingers all prepared to lash out, but then this Guardian article ended up being a pro-Angelina Jolie piece, so now my typin’ fingers are dancing with joy! The Guardian published a fascinating article written by a “Secret Aid Worker” called “Has anyone worked out if celebrities are worth the effort?” Considering the header photo used by The Guardian was of Angelina and William Hague, I thought it was going to be the same old complaints we always hear, that Angelina is just a tourist, blah blah. But no! Amongst the complaints and funny/tragic “blind items” about unnamed celebrity do-gooders, Angelina’s work is praised extensively. Meaning that amongst professional aid workers, Angelina is viewed as one of the best celebrity advocates out there. Yay! So, let’s do some highlights, and I’m including some of the “blind items”.
Blind item #1: “I am now trying to source an appropriately cut agency T-shirt for a famously curvaceous actress, having emailed her management to ask her cup size.”
Blind item #2: “How did I end up spending hours tracking down European bottled mineral water for a British soap actress for every stage of her African tour?”
Blind item #3: “For one American VIP’s 12- hour visit to Aceh, hours were spent locating a hat with a UN-only logo. When we found one somewhere in a cupboard in Jakarta, a triumphant message went to New York – only for his people to turn it down, saying it was a floppy cricket hat “and he only wears baseball caps.” We built a helipad so he could visit a particular transitional shelter site, and told the community that it was a volleyball court. [My guess: Leonardo DiCaprio.]
Blind item #4: The British TV actor who, when offered an overnight stay in a refugee camp in South Sudan to bond with war survivors, rather exceeded his brief by getting drunk with and seducing one of the local women.
Blind item #5: The up-and-coming actress treated a room full of tsunami survivors to a re-enactment of her most famous role. “It wouldn’t have been so bad, if it hadn’t involved drowning,” he says.
Blind item #6: The Asian actress invited, with great fanfare, to speak on her agency’s behalf at a water and sustainability conference in Tokyo. “She walked up to the podium, and started reading her own poetry… No mention of us, or water, or anything. Just … poems. Thank God no media were there and my boss was in New York.”
Blind item #7: “I remember a night in a South Sudanese dive bar with a visiting internationally fancied film star. He was blind drunk and when we went over to talk to him he started lecturing me about not knowing about South Sudan. ‘I mean, no offence, but how long have you actually been here?’ he asked. I said, ‘Over three years now.’ Him: (while creepily stroking my arm) ‘I really love aid workers’.” [my guess: George Clooney.]
Love for Angelina Jolie: A smitten former UNHCR-er remembers working with Angelina Jolie with misty eyes. “She knew more about refugees, and had been to more places than I had,” he sighs. “She had her own cameraman, so all I had to do was find the locations and the refugees.” Another long-standing project manager said: “I was impressed with her in Haiti, in Jordan and in Sri Lanka. She left experts speechless every time.”
A great David Beckham story: “the English football star whose only request on a gruelling trip to Sierra Leone with a packed schedule and very basic accommodation was that he could have the evening to kick a ball about with some local kids.”
This Secret Aid Worker also cites Sean Penn as a guy who went through a big transformation, saying that first Penn was a temperamental douchebag in Haiti, but Penn stuck with it and became a genuine and dedicated aid worker. The whole piece is worth a read and I feel pretty confident that at least one of those Sudan stories was about George Clooney.
Photos courtesy of WENN.