On June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie Voight entered the world in Los Angeles California. Anjelina is the daughter of famed thespians Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. Her connection to fame hardly ends there though as she claims Jacqueline Bisset and Maximilian Schell as her god-parents. With Voight’s Slovak and German roots and Bertrand’s French Canadian and Iroquois roots (Although Voight disputes her Iroquois heritage) they combined to produce a child that grew to be considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Life wasn’t always the Hollywood fairy tale for Jolie as her father left Bertrand in 1976 leaving her to raise Angelina and her brother alone. Bertrand gave up acting and moved her kids to Palisades, New York. Voight wasn’t completely out of his children’s life however and Anjelina made her screen debut in a film with him in 1982 called Lookin’ to get out. In 1986 the family moved back to Los Angeles where Angelina entered the Lee Strasberg Institute where she began developing her acting skills over her two year enrollment appearing in several stage productions but not doing any screen work. After leaving Strasberg, she entered Beverly Hills High School where Angelina had a less than good experience. With her distinctive features and the fact she often wore second hand clothing due to her mothers income which was described as modest, Jolie was often the kid left behind and the butt of jokes.
This however is not the odd portion of her teen years. Jolie has stated she spent much of her time dreaming of becoming a funeral director in those years. She presented as a cross between a goth and a punk and sported purple locks to complement her black wardrobe. it was also then she moved out and rented a garage apartment a few blocks from her mother which isn’t so unusual except she was only fourteen and had a live-in boyfriend. Jolie still today looks back saying that at heart that is who she will always be. This was all made possible because at only fourteen she had signed on with Finesse Modeling Management and was working in both the U.S. and Europe. She also began getting screen time in music videos for Meat Loaf, The Lemonheads, Lenny Kravitz, and Antonello Vendetti. At age 16 she returned to stage acting making her re-entry to the world as a German Dominatrix.
She began helping her brother with his aspiring career by appearing in five of his student films while he was attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts. it wasn’t however until 1993 she made the jump to the big time and appeared in Cyborg 2 her own career began unfolding. In 1995 she met her first ex-husband, Jonny lee Miller on the set of the film Hackers. Jolie got great reviews even though the movie was a bomb and her appearance alone continues to make it a cult classic. She did several more films getting great reviews for the most part except from Riger Ebert who has rarely if ever like anything Jolie has done. 1997 however is the year everything really began coming together.
Jolie appeared in the movie George Wallace’s Cornelia Wallace with a performance that snatched her the Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. With her suddenly seen as an actress that could handle more than just the pretty face roles, she was cast as the lead in HBO’s Gia which chronicled the life of the drama laden supermodel Gia Carangi. Her performance can best be summed up in the words of reviewer Vanessa Vance who said: “Angelina Jolie gained wide recognition for her role as the titular Gia, and it’s easy to see why. Jolie is fierce in her portrayal filling the part with nerve, charm, and desperation and her role in this film is quite possibly the most beautiful train wreck ever filmed.” Again Jolie won a Golden Globe and took an Emmy nomination to the bank as well as her first Screen Actors Guild Award. Jolie then threw everyone for a loop and stopped acting to move back to new York and study film making and writing to round her talents out.
The hiatus was short lived as she found herself in demand and accepting roles soon after the move including 1999’s Pushing Tin in which she met ex-husband number two Billy Bob Thornton. On the heels of that she found herself in another breakthrough role starring alongside Denzel Washington in the Bone Collector which has grossed over $150 million dollars worldwide. Before the dust settled she undertook her third role of the year which many consider her true signature role, Lisa Rowe, in Girl Interrupted. Finally all the critics agreed Jolie was for real and she completely blew away the cast stealing the movie with her stellar performance which led to their Golden Globe and second Screen Actors Guild award in a row as well as an Academy Award.
In 2000 she portrayed a car thief named Sway in Gone in Sixty Seconds which raised her star power more so than the lead actor Nicolas Cage and pulled down over $235 million internationally. As a bankable star in the making she then landed the lead in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider based on the mega popular video game. The movie got awful reviews but Jolie brought in $275 million globally and made her an international star. She continued success at the box office in each of her films thereafter and established herself as the “it” leading woman. The reputation was only further cemented when she and current partner Brad Pitt teamed up for Mr. and Mrs. Smith which has raked in just under a half billion dollars. In 2007 she made her directorial debut with the movie A place in time which rather than being a tool for profit was made for distribution through the national Education association and featured Jude law, Hillary Swank, and Colin Farrel among others.
Just as her roles have grown so has she. Angelina has become a mother both biologically and adoptively. She has further accepted the position of the UNHCR as an ambassador. Rather than just speak on the problems Jolie goes to the problem areas, meets the people, and advocates on their behalf to the global community. Unlike many other ambassadors, Jolie further insists on covering all her travel and travel related expenses in this role on her own. She wants no money intended to help people in need diverted to pay for her role. In Geneva, Switzerland Jolie stated her reason for accepting the role as an ambassador as:
“We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering. I honestly want to help. I don’t believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation someone would help us.”
Jolie was the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award on 2003, and was named the Global Humanitarian Award in 2005. Later in 2007 she was also named to the Council on Foreign Relations and received the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award. In a time where many people say many things but do little, Jolie has proved to be a person that says few things and does many. She has truly gone beyond being just a model or just an actress and become a global icon for all the right reasons.