She's only human, just like us. And her journey has had many rough patches, but she pushes on because she is made of stronger stuff.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 20, 2021. It has since been updated.
Lara Croft, Jane Smith, Maleficent - these are just a few of the roles you have seen Angelina Jolie bring to life. But the beautiful actress stands out for far more than just those characters. In real life, her dynamic and confident personality hides the scars that have formed from her battles.
Despite being bullied, abandoned by her father, divorced, and suffering a cancer scare at a young age, this 46-year-old woman made a choice — to put all that aside as she took great lengths to be a good mother to her children and help those in need around the world. Though she's far from perfect, you can see that she's doing her best.
But let's go back to the beginning of her troubled journey that made her the woman she is today.
Jolie's childhood days were not smooth sailing. Andrew Morton, who wrote Jolie's biography, told the Daily Beast that the actress had had a very troubled childhood. He claims that it was the result of being raised (or not) by an estranged and famous father, Jon Voight, and a mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who, though open-minded, tried to live out her stardom dreams through her daughter.
With a host of nannies taking care of her and living five floors above her mother, Jolie was mostly left alone for the first year or so of her life. Her mother's "laissez-faire" attitude and her father's abandonment were most likely the causes of Jolie's troubled teens.
"Angelina Jolie will have experienced profound abandonment, anxiety, and may have experienced depression" say the psychoanalysts that Morton rounds up to find out why Jolie became the rebellious teen she was. From finding a fascination with knives to contemplating suicidal thoughts, Jolie took teenage angst to a different level.
"Her suicidal thoughts came about because she has no sense of self. She had internalized all that abandonment as a baby," one of Morton's shrinks says. She even suffered bullying and went through a phase of anorexia, according to the Daily Mail. She was mocked for her lips, broad shoulders, and long legs. She was unable to handle all the bullying and this added to her motivation for going through a goth and heavy drug phase.
Though she debuted alongside her father's Lookin' to Get Out in 1982, it was the low-budget production Cyborg 2 in 1993, that truly launched her film career. With Hackers in 1995, her fame started to build and by 1999, she was holding an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Girl, Interrupted, reported the Insider. After that, she was unstoppable. By this time, she had begun to leave behind her reckless ways to focus on her career.
Amidst all this, Jolie met actor Jonny Lee Miller on-set and they got married in 1996 before divorcing in 1999. Then she was married to Billy Bob Thornton for four years. But it was with Brad Pitt that she changed her wild ways and made the effort to channel it into good things.
Brad and Angelina had been dating since 2004, after meeting on the set of the action comedy Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Then married in 2014, they were together till 2016 and the couple has six children together, both adopted as well as biological. Since the couple split though, it hasn't been easy for either of them, especially locked in a divorce battle.
At the age of 26, Jolie was already very sure of wanting to help people in need. Her first trip to Sierra Leone was the turning point. “I realized how completely naive I was to think I had a difficult life,” she recalled.
“It was as if someone slapped me across the face and said, 'Oh, my God, you silly young woman from California, do you have any idea how difficult the world really is for so many people?’" reported the Telegraph. And she has kept up her efforts to make the lives easier for those who are suffering, visiting places like Peshawar, Pakistan and more.
It was her charity work that introduced her to the role of a mother. During the filming of Tomb Raider in 2001, "she decided to adopt a Cambodian boy named Maddox. The infant changed her life, she began focusing on him and her growing role as an international advocate for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees," said Morton. Then in 2005, she adopted Zahara and brought home Pax in 2007, together with Brad Pitt. Then, she had her own biological children with Pitt — Shiloh, Vivienne, and Knox.
It was during her years of motherhood that she also went through a cancer scare. Worried about breast cancer taking her away from her family, she chose to have a mastectomy done. But it didn't stop her from being hands-on with her children.
According to Moms.com, Jolie is dedicated to being around for her children (including making breakfast, taking them to school) and understands the importance of spending quality time with her children. Telling BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour, Jolie said, “You don’t know who your children are until they show you who they are,” she says, simply. “They’re just becoming whoever they want to be.”
She's donned so many roles and it is exactly for that reason she is the inspiration we need to be our own woman. Though she is just as flawed as any other person, she shows us that we all have strength in us. She shows us that accepting ourselves is the best thing we can do for ourselves.