In a interview with British Vogue Editor Edward Enninful, Angelina Jolie got very personal, opening up about her family and deep passions.
Speaking about her children, the mother of six she said, “I was best friends with my mom. I loved having babies, but I love sitting up at night and talking to my kids. I like the teenage years. I like the older years. I love hanging out with them.
She explained how they coped with lockdown: “We went into it having just gotten out of the hospital with Zahara (who underwent surgery early last year), and we were so happy she was OK that we entered lockdown in a different state of mind. But, you know, there are also these other markers of life: Pax going into his senior year, but not being able to enjoy all that it is to be a senior; Zahara finally getting her driving licence, but she’s taking the test with the driver wrapped in the full outfit with the masks. It’s not how you imagine these moments. But birthdays go on, and I think that for many people, it’s made us all feel very human together. There’s something beautiful about that.”
Jolie who adopted three of her six children, also spoke about the importance of her kids being global citizens. “They are from across the globe. When I see Mad in Cambodia, it’s his home. He is a Cambodian man, and at the same time, he is also an American citizen and a global citizen. But it’s not just important for him to go there, it’s important for his siblings to go there, too. We’ve been very blessed to have a family of different cultures and races. We are all learning from each other.
“I feel like it’s a big deal if they accept me, you know? I mean, that’s the thing for a lot of mothers, and for a lot of parents regardless. But I think even more so if you have adopted children. They have to choose you, too. It’s not the parents’ family and they’re in it. It’s our family.”
After her divorce with Brad Pitt in 2019, the actress moved into a new home, which used to be the estate of the late movie director Cecil B. DeMille.
“I wanted it to be close to their dad (Brad Pitt), who is only five minutes away. I felt a little pressure moving in. Like I had snuck into where DeMille and Chaplin would hang out. I love most that there is no entertainment room, but lots of pathways and places to walk and think. I feel very fortunate we have that at this time.”
When asked what advice give to parents on inspiring their children to be socially and environmentally conscious, she replied, “Well, I know this may sound strange, but don’t make it a duty for them to do good or have to give back. If we can help children feel that it’s not about duty or service or charity, but the joy of an interconnected life with people you respect, then it feels very different.”
The 45-year-old will soon be publishing a book for young people with Geraldine Van Bueren QC and Amnesty International – a non-governmental organization that focuses on human rights.
“It’s called Know Your Rights (And Claim Them). We want to help young people to identify who or what is blocking them from accessing their human rights, and how to try to overcome that. The message to young people is, no one has the right to harm you, to silence you.
“Young people are engaged and ready to fight. But there is a level of misinformation we never faced growing up. We want the book to help give them the tools to strengthen their fight and empower them in a very practical way.
“Maybe it’s just the young punk in me, but I like the spirit of the youth. I believe they can see right and wrong with more clarity. I see a lot of older people making excuses for certain behaviours, and it tends to be the younger person who is quicker to say, ‘But this is simply wrong, and we stand against it.’ I’ve wanted to remain that person.”
Known for her humanitarian work, this year will mark Angelina’s 20th year of being the special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency.
“I started in my early twenties, putting on my boots and backpack, and going out to try and figure out what the hell was going on in the world. I tried to give myself a broader education than I’d had at school. I grew up in a very empty place, in many ways, so had to go to find a wider understanding.
“I went through a phase of being so shocked and angry about a system that tolerates millions of people being displaced by war, genocide and persecution. I’m still just as angry about injustice, but whereas my younger self wanted to tear down the system, I’ve learnt I have to fight to try to change it from within.
“I have a love-hate relationship with the UN. I love when I see practical solutions and protection for those in most need. I love to see people from around the world risking their lives for that. What I hate is how little focus governments have on actually solving the reasons people flee. I hate it when we don’t speak out and defend the rights of all people equally. And I hate when I feel the focus isn’t encouraging people and countries to be independent, but seems to benefit from them being broken.”
Speaking about the discourse around refugees, she said, “I think if anything it has worsened. We speak as if refugees are a burden. But they’ve had to adapt. They have a different skill set, a different look in their eye. They’ve confronted their own humanity in such a profound way. They’ve stood up to oppression. We should honour their fight. Honour the people who’ve fled bombs and protected their kids.”
Angelina, who has directed many films, is set to direct the biopic of war photographer Don McCullin. “I’m still very nervous. Even the other day, I thought to email him to ask him some questions, and I was composing my email to get it just right. He’s incredible. The story is about Don, but it’s also equally about the conflicts he has been witness to, and the lives of the people within the now-famous photographs, who they were, and the often darker truth of those conflicts.”
Asked if she was at a happy stage in her life, Jolie said, “I don’t know. The past few years have been pretty hard. I’ve been focusing on healing our family. It’s slowly coming back, like the ice melting and the blood returning to my body.
“But I’m not there. I’m not there yet. But I hope to be. I’m planning on it. I do like being older. I feel much more comfortable in my forties than I did when I was younger. Maybe because… I don’t know… maybe because my mom didn’t live very long, so there’s something about age that feels like a victory instead of a sadness for me.”
Angelina’s mother, Marcia Lynne Bertrand, passed away in 2007 from ovarian cancer.
“So I like it. I’m looking forward to my fifties – I feel that I’m gonna hit my stride in my fifties. Though we were on the trampoline the other day, and the children said, ‘No, Mom, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself.’ And I thought, ‘God, isn’t that funny?’ There was a day I was an action star, and now the kids are telling me to get off the trampoline because I’ll hurt myself.”
You can read the full Vogue interview here: https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/angelina-jolie-interview