Oscar-winning actress, professional model, daughter of Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, and listed on countless “most beautiful women” lists, Angelina Jolie trained and performed at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute following her mother Marcheline Bertrand, who had studied with Lee Strasberg directly. A mother to six children and a natural beauty both inside and out, she needs no introduction as a humanitarian spokesperson.
Jolie first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises while filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia. She eventually turned to The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide, for more information on international trouble spots.
Since 2001, Jolie has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced persons in more than 20 countries, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, Ecuador, Kosovo, Kenya, Namibia, Sri Lanka, North Caucasus, Jordan, Egypt, New Delhi, Costa Rica, Chad, Syria, and Iraq, to name a few, and most recently visited earthquake victims in Haiti on her latest trip to help survivors of conflict and natural disaster.
The Jolie-Pitt Foundation, dedicated to eradicating extreme rural poverty, protecting natural resources and conserving wildlife, donated $1 million to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. The organization provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters, for emergency medical assistance to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
Asked what she hoped to accomplish meeting with refugees and internally displaced persons in more than 20 countries, she stated, “Awareness of the plight of these people. I think they should be commended for what they have survived, not looked down upon.”
In 2001 Jolie was recognized and named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, to help educate the public not only about the plight of refugees, but also about the perseverance and courage they show in overcoming all odds to rebuild their lives.
In 2003, Jolie was the first recipient of the newly created Citizen of the World Award given out by the United Nations Correspondents Association to those who have made a significant contribution. It was initiated in 2003, in honor of Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was killed in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Iraq. In 2005, Jolie was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the United Nations Association of the USA for her work with UNHCR and with refugees. That same year, Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni awarded Jolie Cambodian citizenship for her conservation work in the country.
Overtime, Jolie has become more involved in promoting humanitarian causes on a political level. She has regularly attended World Refugee Day in Washington, D.C., dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world, and she was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world including health and the environment in 2005 and 2006. Jolie began lobbying humanitarian interests in the U.S. capital, where she met with members of Congress at least 20 times from 2003.
Jolie also co-chairs the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, which helps fund education programs for children affected by conflict. Founded in 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative, annual meetings have brought together more than 100 current and former heads of state, 14 Nobel Peace Prize winners, hundreds of leading global CEOs, major philanthropists and foundation heads, directors of the most effective non-governmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. In 2007, 19 organizations made a commitment worth $148 million to educate 350,000 of the children out-of-school in conflict areas and help improve the quality of schooling for nearly 700,000 additional children.
Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR.
Jolie is on the board of advisors for the Yéle Haiti Foundation, and with Brad Pitt took time to help Wyclef Jean with his Clean Streets project. Jolie also arranged a deal with People Magazine allowing them to print the first picture showing her visibly pregnant in exchange for a $500,000 donation to the charity.
Angelina has been travelling to refugee camps around the world since filming Tomb Raider. During her missions she has visited places including Sudan’s war-torn Darfur, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Tanzania. She also visited Afghan refugees in Pakistan and donated $1 million to help.
Jolie is known to cover all of her costs while on missions, and shares the working and living conditions as the UNHCR field staff.
Jolie published Notes from My Travels, a collection of journal entries that chronicle her early field missions (2001-2002) with proceeds benefitting UNHCR.
According to tax records, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt donated more than $8 million to charity in 2006 alone.
In January, 2008, Jolie and her brother, James Haven, marked the first anniversary of their mother’s death from ovarian cancer by making an undisclosed donation to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
In May, 2014, she made a $50,000 donation to the Red Cross flood relief efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.