It’s a wonder how renowned Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie manages to juggle a successful acting career, a large family and her important role with the United Nations. In November 2013, she received the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (an honorary Academy Award) in recognition for her work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Interestingly, it was while filming Hollywood blockbuster film “Lara Croft:Tomb Raider” (2001) in the war-torn Cambodia that Jolie was exposed to the humanitarian crisis present in the world. After returning home and contacting the UNHCR, she embarked on her first mission to refugee camps in Sierra Leone and Tanzania – a trip that would cause the actress to become heavily involved with the UNHCR and receive the title of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador that same year.
In 2006, Jolie decided to turn her home in Cambodia (as well as the surrounding 60,000 hectares of land) into Asia’s first Millenium Village, a project aimed at ending extreme poverty. The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Project (named after Jolie’s adopted Cambodian son) managed to house and employ over 6000 villagers; the land includes schools, roads and even a soy milk factory, all of which are funded by Jolie.
Her power with the media led Jolie not only to raise more awareness of the UNHCR’s missions, but also to expose a cinematic audience to the atrocities suffered by refugees. Jolie’s 2011 directorial debut “In the Land ofBlood and Honey” portrayed the theme of women’srape during the Bosnian War (1992-1995), and showed the atrocities of cruelty and desperation in a war zone. The film went on to win the Cinema for Peace Award for Most Valuable Movie of the Year, showing how Jolie’s sphere of influence managed to reach out and raise awareness to a situation all too real and present in modern day war-torn countries. After more than ten years and over 40 field visits around the world, Jolie was promoted to the rank of Special Envoy to High Commissioner António Guterres.
Angelina Jolie truly encapsulates what it means to be a global citizen. Through her courageous efforts, we can be inspired to change the world, and have a positive impact on others’ lives.
Article By: Chantal Marauta
Photographs By: UNHCR, Newsweek & Maxims