Angelina Jolie: How She’s Become An Inspiration To Us All

In the early stages of Angelina Jolie's public life she was known as the wild child actress who snogged her brother on the red carpet at the Oscars, wore a vial of her then husband Billy Bob Thornton's blood around her neck and admitted to self-harming and drug use.

But all that is now long forgotten as the Oscar-winner splits most of her time between her extensive humanitarian work and bringing up her beautiful family of six. Let’s take a look at how she’s turned into a role model for so many.

Angelina Jolie in 2002

Angelina has said that she first become aware of the extent of the problems people around the world face when she filmed Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2001. She later said that seeing and meeting the people of that war-ravaged country ‘opened my eyes.’

Angelina Jolie in Chad, 2004

The suffering of the people in Cambodia caused Ange to contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find out how she could help. She then went on her first overseas mission – an 18-day trip to Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

She followed that up with a two-week trip back to Cambodia and then met with Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Not long after she was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and her humanitarian work really got going.

Angelina Jolie speaking as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2002

Since being appointed as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina has visited over 30 countries and even risked her life. On a recent trip to Afghanistan she revealed that she had written a farewell letter to Brad Pitt after being warned she was a target for attack. Two weeks after she arrived home a UN bunker was attacked and everyone inside it was killed.

Angelina Jolie in Iraq, 2008

Angelina is beyond admirable in her courage for visiting highly volatile areas, during her time as a Goodwill Ambassador she’s visited Darfur in Sudan during the verocious conflict there, Chad during its civil war, Iraq and Libya during the Libyan revolution.

Angelina Jolie in Pakistan, 2005

Angelina, on the whole, has focused her attention on refugees and people who have been displaced due to conflict. This cause has seen her visit Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, Ecuador, Kosovo, Kenya, Namibia, Sri Lanka, North Caucasus, Jordan, Egypt, New Delhi, Costa Rica, Chad, Syria, and Iraq.

She has also helped those who have been displaced by natural disasters, including earthquake victims in Haiti.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Haiti, 2006

Angelina has also set up and financed many charity organisations. In 2003, she founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (after her first son, Maddox, who she adopted from Cambodia) which is dedicated to community development and environmental conservation in Cambodia.

Angelina Jolie in Ecuador, 2010

But it doesn’t stop there, in 2007 Ange joined forces with economist Dr. Gene Sperling and founded the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, which funds education for children affected by man-made or natural disasters.

And in 2008, she worked with Microsoft to set up the Kids in Need of Defense, a group of law firms and volunteers who have commiteed to giving legal counsel for immigrant kids in the US.

Angelina Jolie with asylum seekers in Malta, 2011

Both Angelina and Brad dig deep when it comes to charity, with the pair donating millions and millions of their own money each year. Records from 2009 show the couple gave at least $7m to charitable causes.

Angelina and Brad chat with refugees in Costa Rica, 2006

When Brad and Angelina’s twins, Knox and Vivienne, were born the couple sold the first images of the babies to People and Hello! for $14 million, using the entire amount to help fund the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

Angelina Jolie in Kenya, 2009

Most recently Angelina joined forces with William Hague to raise awareness about the use of rape as a weapon in conflicts. The pair visited the Congo and Angelina spoke at the G8 in London.

Angelina Jolie and William Hague in 2013

Angelina used her directorial debut to highlight the horrors of the war in the former Yugoslavia, for which, she and some of the cast of the film received threats. At the movie’s premiere in Sarajevo, she said: ‘There were things sent to me, there were things posted online. The cast have never complained to me about these threats but I’ve heard through other people it was happening. One of them did have their windows smashed in on their cars and someone else had an issue when their phone was hacked and emails were sent out saying they were from them and saying they had been hurt.’

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia, 2010

Despite her selfless humanitarian work, generous charity donations and her role as a devoted mother, it was Angelina’s announcement that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy that really won people’s admiration.

Not only did the star take the brave decision to have the dramatic surgery, after discovering that she had a high chance of developing cancer, the same disease that killed her beloved mother, Marchelline Bertrand, in 2007, but she wrote a moving op-ed piece for the New York Times so that other women would hopefully benefit from her decision.

Speaking about Angelina’s bravery at the premiere of World War Z, where Ange made her first public appearance since revealing the news, Brad Pitt said: ‘I was so proud of her. What everyone is seeing is absolutely who she is and who she has always been.

‘She’s faced her problems head on and found out her options to make the smartest decision for her, and she’s shared that knowledge with everyone else.

‘I always want her by my side. Life will go on and we’re taking care of business as usual. We’re on the other side of that.

‘It’s the bravest thing and I get a little emotional about the act she did for our family and telling her story to others.

‘She’s a very special woman. It’s important that this testing is not available for everyone and it should be, and that there are surgical options and everyone should have these options.’

Bravery, elegance, generosity and poise – what an incredible woman!

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