On August 27, 2001, Angelina Jolie was named a Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for her humanitarian work. Over the next decade, she would venture on more than 40 field missions and meet refugees and other internally displaced people in more than 30 countries. In a 2002 interview, when asked what she hoped to accomplish, she stated, “Awareness of the plight of these people. I think they should be commended for what they have survived, not looked down upon.”
Born in 1975 in Los Angeles, CA, to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie started her acting career at age five with a small part in her father’s film, “Lookin’ to Get Out.” Her first breakout role was portraying supermodel Gia Carangi in HBO’s 1998 movie, “Gia,” which won her a Golden Globe and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Jolie went on to become one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood with hit films such as “Girl, Interrupted,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and “Maleficent.”
Jolie was first exposed to the refugee crisis when filming “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” in war-torn Cambodia. She decided to leverage her stardom by traveling to war zones in order to bring media attention to often ignored conflict areas. After getting her Goodwill Ambassadorship, she traveled to war-torn areas like Sudan’s Darfur region, the Iraq-Syria border during the second Gulf War and Kabul, Afghanistan. She also established the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to help out with health, education, conservation, and sustainable development efforts in struggling countries. Jolie’s work has even landed her in D.C. pushing for legislation to better help refugees. After a decade as a Goodwill Ambassador she was promoted to Special Envoy to the High Commissioner.