In our new-millennium media rush, clearly there’s been some redistricting going on in the hot-air vortex, where comedians are solicited for their worldviews and celebrity-mania flashes on appearance and leaves achievement in the dark.
Then there’s Angelina Jolie: actress, mother, celebrity, international humanitarian and mega-famous on all counts.
Nearly a decade ago, she basked in the self-immolating glow of supermodel “Gia” before a wild ride through the tabloids that ranged from her cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof period with Billy Bob Thornton to her alleged wresting of stud-muffin Brad Pitt from the all-American grasp of Jennifer Aniston, arousing a beehive furor in checkout lines that hadn’t been seen since Liz took Eddie from Debbie.
She did win an Oscar for “Girl, Interrupted.” But mostly she made silly movies.
That was then.
Now she’s done the thing everyone talks about but few achieve: She’s taken charge. She attends the World Economic Forum, donates a third of her salary to charity and in April, with Pitt, formed Global Action for Children, a D.C. lobby for funding AIDS orphan programs and education for children in refugee camps. She’s also been named Ambassador for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.
“She’s absolutely serious,” former secretary of State Colin Powell told Newsweek. “Her work with refugees is not something to decorate herself. She studies the issues. … For her, it’s not about saving the world. It’s about saving kids.”
Miraculously, she’s held onto a sense of proportion. In “A Mighty Heart,” she could have made a star turn out of her portrayal of Mariane Pearl, the widow of journalist Daniel Pearl, slain by Jihadists in Pakistan. Instead, she deferred to Mariane’s cool passion and understated resolve, even on “The Charlie Rose Show,” when Jolie knew who the real star of this story was.
Other performers have worked for charity and international causes, but none in our wall-to-wall media age has done as well by doing good.
Vocation: Actress, human rights ambassador
Recent breakthrough: The leap from celebrity icon to international credibility as humanitarian spokeswoman and children’s rights advocate. Her role in “A Mighty Heart” also has Oscar wags predicting a best actress nom.
Role models: From the children of Tanzania’s Lugufu refugee camp (“They’re my heroes”) to, most recently, Mariane Pearl.
Mantra: “What the worst people in the world fear is justice.”
What’s next: Currently filming the thriller “Wanted” in Prague. Then a year off.