American actress, director, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie is one of the most graceful, compassionate human rights activists of our time. Making her mark on Hollywood at a young age, Jolie began to embrace philanthropic work while filming in Cambodia in the early 2000s. Since then, she has spent years dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the globe, using her immense celebrity to bring attention to important causes.
In 2001, Jolie donated $1 million in response to an international United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emergency appeal, the largest donation the branch had ever received from a single individual. Not long after, Jolie was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, a title she held until 2012, when she was promoted to the rank of “Special Envoy,” in which she continues to advocate for displaced and impoverished people around the world. Throughout her work as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie traveled to many disaster-stricken countries, raised awareness for worthy global causes, and promoted humanitarian issues on a political level. The Jolie-Pitt foundation, formed with husband Brad Pitt, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various human rights organizations. The foundation has also funded the creation of no fewer than ten schools in Cambodia, Kenya, and Afghanistan, as well as efforts to provide medical supplies to underserved nations.
Recently, Jolie was honored with the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Fifth Annual Governor’s Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestow the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to individuals who have made significant humanitarian contributions. The award is named for beloved screen actor and humanitarian Jean Hersholt, who served as president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund for 18 years. Jolie joins an inspiring group of past award recipients including Oprah Winfrey, Paul Newman, and Audrey Hepburn, among dozens of others.
In her acceptance speech, Jolie credits her mother, who passed away in 2007, as being the person who inspired her to pursue a philanthropic path. She says her mother always taught her to “live a life of use to others,” which for Jolie, comes second to being an artist, although her fame has certainly helped to magnify cases of global injustice and conflict. An artist who continues to pursue her love of film by getting behind the camera to direct, Jolie balances her time between her role as UN Goodwill Ambassador, actress, mother, and philanthropist.