Angelina Jolie has been giving excellent interviews while quarantined in LA. She’s been writing and doing Zoom calls too, but it’s been a while since we’ve had back-to-back magazine interviews from Angelina. A few weeks ago, we read her Harper’s Bazaar UK feature (which should have been a cover story), and now there’s a Vogue India interview. The point of this piece was to highlight the work of the UNHCR, of which Angelina serves as Special Envoy (a step up from goodwill ambassador, which she was for 11 years). The piece was published on Friday, ahead of World Refugee Day (June 20). While there’s a lot of information about the work of the UNHCR, she also spoke about her children, adoption, and splitting from Brad Pitt. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
How the pandemic will affect refugees: “Sadly we are only at the beginning of the economic and social impact of the crisis, and what this will mean for displaced people when levels of humanitarian funding were already so low. It really is frightening to consider. It’s a time for solidarity and to understand that refugees are on the frontline of the struggle for survival and human rights.”
Who taught her the most about refugees: “Many UNHCR colleagues, but really the refugees themselves have been my mentors. I remember one of my first field missions, in Sierra Leone, when at a certain point, after listening to people’s stories, I started to cry. There was an amazing grandmother there, looking after her orphaned grandkids, who pulled me up and told me not to cry but to help. That has always stayed with me.
Her love of Cambodia: “Cambodia was the country that made me aware of refugees. It made me engage in foreign affairs in a way I never had, and join UNHCR. Above all, it made me a mom. In 2001, I was in a school programme in Samlout playing blocks on the floor with a little kid and as clear as day I thought: ‘My son is here.’ A few months later I met baby Mad at an orphanage. I can’t explain it and am not one to believe in messages or superstition. But it was just real and clear. Samlout was the first and last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. It was where I first went with UNHCR because it is near the Thai border, where people were struggling to return. It was littered with landmines. I chose to invest and live there to try to help improve one of the most challenging areas of the country. We found 48 landmines on my property. My home is on a compound I share with the HQ for my foundation. It is 100 percent locally run, as it should be, and I work with a great team of people.”
A family full of adopted & biological kids: “Each is a beautiful way of becoming family. What is important is to speak with openness about all of it and to share. ‘Adoption’ and ‘orphanage’ are positive words in our home. With my adopted children, I can’t speak of pregnancy, but I speak with much detail and love about the journey to find them and what it was like to look in their eyes for the first time. All adopted children come with a beautiful mystery of a world that is meeting yours. When they are from another race and foreign land, that mystery, that gift, is so full. For them, they must never lose touch with where they came from. They have roots that you do not. Honour them. Learn from them. It’s the most amazing journey to share. They are not entering your world, you are entering each other’s worlds.”
How she’s sustained a healthy environment for her kids after the separation: “I separated for the wellbeing of my family. It was the right decision. I continue to focus on their healing. Some have taken advantage of my silence, and the children see lies about themselves in the media, but I remind them that they know their own truth and their own minds. In fact, they are six very brave, very strong young people.”
What she’s been working on in lockdown: “I’ll be working with UNHCR on the global crisis and keeping connected and raising awareness of the realities on the ground. And continuing to work with the BBC World Service, on a media literacy initiative for young people. I’m also collaborating with Amnesty International on a book project for children’s rights. I went into lockdown thinking it would be a good time to learn to cook. Never happened. I know my limits.”
A book could be written about these sentences: “I separated for the wellbeing of my family. It was the right decision. I continue to focus on their healing. Some have taken advantage of my silence, and the children see lies about themselves in the media, but I remind them that they know their own truth and their own minds.” Wow, Angelina really ended Brad and his PR team, huh? They thought they could spread all of those sugary stories about Brad and fatherhood and such and Angelina’s like “that motherf–ker is lying.” Just another reminder that the sh-t that went down on the plane forever changed Angelina and she went into “protect the kids” mode and she never looked back.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.