When she took on the role of Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie’s career exploded. At the time, she was known for her beauty, for her difficult relationship with her father John Voight, and for her past, which was connected with excesses between alcohol and drugs. “Tomb Raider” would change a lot.
The 2001 film took her to the jungles of Cambodia, where she had a transformative experience. Back in the United States, where she always led a privileged life, she embarked on the usual tour promoting her great blockbuster. But the 26-year-old actress didn’t want to limit herself to answering the usual factual questions.
“Cambodia is a beautiful place,” he shoots when asked about his filming experience. “I don’t want to talk about very difficult things, but that’s when I discovered what was going on in the world. My eyes began to open, ”he revealed in an interview with“ NYRock ”. The turbulent and violent history of the country, which still struggled with poverty, ill health and the risk of mines, made a strong impression on the actress.
As soon as he returned home, the first thing he did was to call the United Nations Refugee Agency. Seven months later, the 26-year-old actress was named the agency’s Goodwill Ambassador. But before he was awarded the title, he packed his bags again and set off for less paradisiacal destinations. He left luxury behind and ventured into refugee camps in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Pakistan. Not only did you want to help, you refused to use the agency’s money – you paid all of the costs, you and the staff.
In Pakistan, he found one of the most complicated situations, especially among Afghan refugees who were trying at the time to escape the conflict caused by the US invasion of the Taliban regime. In response to the agency’s appeal, Jolie followed suit and donated more than one million euros to the Afghan refugee aid fund. Twenty years later, Jolie turns back to Afghanistan and makes headlines around the world.
First the unprecedented situation: the actress made her first Instagram post on Saturday, August 21. It wasn’t a selfie, a family portrait, or an advertisement for their new film; it was rather the letter he received from a young Afghan woman. In two days he collected more than three million likes and more than seven million followers.
“At the moment, the Afghan people are losing their ability to express themselves freely and to communicate on social media. So I joined Instagram to share their stories and voices from around the world fighting for their most basic human rights, ”wrote the 46-year-old actress.
The young Afghan woman, whose name was withheld for fear of reprisals, has not spared criticism either. “It’s disgusting to see so many Afghans again who are fleeing their homeland (…) because of the fear and insecurity that have gripped the country.”
This is just another initiative from Jolie who, since her first trip in 2001, has grown to become one of the Hollywood stars who are most committed to humanitarian projects. In 2003, she even published a book telling first-person experiences of traveling to developing countries during her first year as ambassador to the United Nations.
For the past two decades, Afghan drama has become a major concern for the actress. In 2008, seven years after his first encounter with refugees in Pakistan – where he returned for another visit in 2005 – he finally decided to fly to Kabul for the first time.
“In the six years since the fall of the Taliban, more than five million Afghans have returned to the country,” he said in 2008 before the trip. “I want to see with my own eyes how they are doing.”
When visiting Afghan refugees
It is estimated that Jolie has already made more than 60 trips to conflict locations where people live in dramatic conditions, on a trip that has taken her to more than 30 countries. And for the third time in her career as an ambassador, the Afghan drama is again an obstacle.
“Behind the labels – they call them refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers – are people with the same hopes, fears and regrets as any of us. Their lives usually have deeply tragic but also encouraging stories, “he explained in 2008.” Survival, as many of these Afghan families survived for 30 years, is an authentic testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. And you can tell in their generosity, their humor and their quiet determination to give their children a better future. “
At a time when she was one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses, she traded career interviews for debates about her travels. He brought back hundreds of photos and videos from this visit to Kabul. In one of them, an Afghan told his story with tears.
“It is so rare for a grown man to lose control and cry. When it happens, you realize how devastating the situation is. He was desperate because there was nothing he could do for his family, ”Jolie commented.
Despite her celebrity status, each of these trips carries risks that the actress accepts. After all, there are conflict zones or those that still bear strong marks of war. And Jolie doesn’t say no.
One of the most dramatic moments of visiting Kabul
The bloody civil war in Cambodia left the population a dark legacy, which in 2001 awakened the humanitarian facet in Jolie. The Southeast Asian country was also one of his focuses.
A year after filming Tomb Raider, the actress returned to Cambodia, where she faced the dangers of mines side by side with the local population. “I’ve gone through certain areas where I’ve been told nothing ever exploded – and so they weren’t considered high risk areas – but you and everyone who goes with you are trying to stay on the visible trail, the all use. Don’t go away from him, ”he said.
“And when you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night in the bushes and you don’t know exactly where… It’s crazy to think that you really don’t know [onde estão as minas] and that there are people who live like this. “
Cambodia would eventually win a place in the heart of the actress. During one of her visits in 2002, she decided to help as best she could – and, with the consent of her then-husband Billy Bob Thornton, visited an orphanage with the aim of adopting one of the many children victims of poverty and war.
“In 2001 I was in a school in Samlout, playing with a small child on the floor and had a clear vision: ‘My son is here’”, he recalled in 2020 from “Vogue”. He later returned to an orphanage in Battambang Province. He had promised he would only visit an orphanage, but as he walked through the scene got complicated.
“I didn’t feel any special connection with any of the orphans,” he revealed. “So they said there was another baby.” In a small box that hung from the ceiling was a small one month old baby. “I cried, I cried a lot,” he told Vanity Fair.
Another baby with Maddox
The adoption process was hectic. Suspended a month after the US government’s decision to ban the adoption of Cambodian children, he was further incriminated by the arrest of the middleman convicted of money laundering. After all, the adoption met the legal requirements and Maddox even became Jolie’s first child, who raised him alone after Thornton’s separation.
In addition to Maddox, Jolie has adopted other orphans in underdeveloped countries. Pax came from Vietnam and Zahara from Ethiopia. She has three other biological children, Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox.
After a decade as an ambassador of goodwill, the actress would receive another honor, this time from a Portuguese woman. In 2012, the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was promoted under the direction of António Guterres. Jolie would then be responsible for helping her in the worst refugee crises.
Accompanied by the former Portuguese Prime Minister, Jolie then undertook her first election campaign as special envoy for Ecuador and then accompanied Guterres on a one-week trip to support the situation of refugees from the Syrian conflict throughout Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
The recent Afghanistan crisis touches on two issues that are close to Jolie’s heart: the plight of refugees in Afghanistan and women’s rights, especially when challenged during armed conflict; In 2014, she headed a protocol to be adopted by 151 countries.
At the age of 46 and still having a vibrant career as an actress, she has increasingly turned to directing, where her concern for conflicts and humanitarian dramas is also evident.
It took place in Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, which tells a love story set amid the horrors of war in Bosnia. And it was repeated in 2017 with “First They Killed My Father”, which tells the true experiences of Loung Ung, a seven-year-old girl who is being trained as a child soldier in the middle of the war in Cambodia.
However, there is always time for another humanitarian journey, even as he’s making and producing films, raising six children, and grappling with a tumultuous divorce process. “Nothing would make sense if I didn’t lead a life in which I could help others,” he says.