Is Angelina Jolie the greatest role model of all time?
Before writing this, I thought long and hard. My first concern was the relevance of this to my journey that I share on this blog. The second is because you either love Angelina Jolie or you hate her. No one seems to be indifferent.
I don’t write about celebrity for the simple reason that I don’t think any celebrity, sports star, politician or business person is better than the person sitting next to them – they simply have chosen different jobs. I have never been in awe of anyone in particular, although there are quite a few people I respect immensely – but those people, I know well.
I never have my photograph taken with a person considered a “celebrity” at a party, event, dinner party or social gathering - I simply don’t see the point. I possibly will never see them again, so why would I want a reminder of someone I don’t know? Is it so I can show my children (if I ever have any) or friends that really matter, that I stood next to a celebrity for a photo?
So, to call one a role model feels kind of weird – but in this particular case it is justified – for me at least.
Angelina Jolie has it all. She was born into a pedigree Hollywood family, growing up in Hollywood with wealth and influence. She attended her first Oscars as her father’s date when she was just 13 – her first real taste of light bulbs flashing and photographers yelling “look here”, “look at me”, “Angelina”. It must have been daunting, but today, I am sure it is like water of a ducks back.
She started modeling and acting quite young starring alongside her father in Lookin’ to Get Out (1982), but it wasn’t until her first major film role in Hackers and television films George Wallace and Gia (both award winning roles for Jolie) that she started to become known.
By her Oscar winning performance in Girl, Interrupted in 1999, she had the public mesmerized. This film was followed by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life, Mr and Mrs Smith, Wanted, Salt, The Tourist, A Mighty Heart, Changeling and her directorial debut in In the Land of Blood and Honey.
Where I first noticed her is when she was publicized as having a vile around her neck with her then husband Billy Bob Thornton’s blood carefully safeguarded inside.
My immediate thought was that this beautiful, young woman is looking to be noticed. She wanted attention. That and a host of other things made Angelina Jolie a paparazzi dream and someone that was just like many of the scarlets before her.
But then something happened...she adopted Maddox and even I took notice. Here was this “wild thing” that held this baby like he was the most important child in the world, and to her, he was – it was evident. In all of her wild behaviors and drug taking, knife wielding ways, she became a mom and for me at least, everything changed.
It was more than the fact she had adopted a Cambodian child – it was what this signified to the rest of the world.
She wasn’t the first person to adopt a baby from foreign soil in a war torn country, but she was the first that stood out in my generation.
In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a movie filmed in war-torn Cambodia, she credited this experience to giving her a broader understanding of the world. She then had an interest in finding out more and seeing what she could do to make a different. Travelling to refugee camps around the world, she was shocked at what she saw particularly in Sierra Leone and Tanzania.
Months later, she donated a million dollars of her own money to an international UNHCR emergency appeal, the single largest donation they had ever received from a private individual.
Over the next decade she went on many field missions and met with refugees and internally displaced person in more than 30 countries.
We all know that Angelina and her partner Brad Pitt have adopted a number of children from around the world, and had three biological children with their very impressive gene pool – but what strikes me most is what this has done in the eyes of myself and other people.
By choosing children from countries all over the world, she made it cool. Not a child for Christmas type of cool, but a ground breaking, game-changing type of cool.
There are children in the world that are desperate for clean water and food, let alone an education. She gave this to a few children that would have otherwise had nothing.
Why I see her as a role model
Angelina Jolie is beautiful, perhaps the most genetically beautiful woman in the world. She is smart and easily able to articulate what Governments and people just like us could be doing to make the world a better place.
Her maternal instincts are there on display for the world to see and she takes it very seriously to be a parent to her six children and a partner to the world’s most genetically blessed man, who just so happens to share her passion.
Angelina doesn’t apologize for not conforming to others expectations on any topic whether its how she holds herself, her parenting skills of the fact she loves having sex with both men and women.
The reality is that she doesn’t have to – and no one should.
Her movies continue to break new ground and her directorial debut shows that she is more interested in telling a story of hardship than some frivolous rom-com that perhaps may make more money, but lacks depth and meaning.
She is a businesswoman, a model spokeswoman and was brave enough to have both breast removed and share her story to educate others to not be afraid of having a preventive double mastectomy if it means giving your family more certainty that they will have a mother around for much longer and for yourself.
As a woman, slightly older than Angelina, I believe she is a role model. We can go on and have families and/or careers, and give the odd contribution to charity, or we can make a difference to the world we live in and change people’s mindsets on illness, disease, poverty and war. To me, she is sexy, smart, charismatic, worldly, game-changing, humanitarian, educator who living her life by her own rules - ones we all can learn from.
I know so many people who have money and want to continually show that off to the rest of the world, as if that helps elevate their positioning in the world or makes them more important. So many people are self-centred and don’t believe in putting anyone other than themselves first – and that is sad, mainly for them. The joy and satisfaction that comes from making a difference, and being put on this planet for a reason, far out way anything monetary that one can achieve.
If only we all could do what Angelina Jolie does and that is give a third of what we make to charity if we can so afford – imagine what a better place we would leave for our children and grandchildren.