Angelina Jolie is an artist who has had a interesting trajectory from table-shaking rebel to her current, more sophisticated incarnation. Looking at the poised person she is today, it’s easy to forget that she battled substance abuse and mental health issues for years. She famously left the habitat where her self-destructive behaviors flourished and embarked on a journey of self-discovery through creativity and service.
In that sense, Jolie is an good example of the importance of one’s environment. In bad soil there’s no sustenance so even the most perfect seed cannot realize it’s fruition. In good, nourishing soil, any seed can achieve it’s full potential.
In the February 2018 issue of Elle Magazine, Jolie sat down with former Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss women’s rights issues as International Women’s Day approaches. Here are some highlights:
On political activism: I was quite anti-politics when I was young. I started working on human-rights issues and meeting refugees and survivors mostly because I wanted to learn. I also had this romantic idea that I would get my boots on and be a humanitarian. But at a certain point, you realize that’s not enough. You have to find the root of the problem. And that, so often, brings you back to the law and politics. For instance, I kept meeting refugees who were survivors of systematic rape—rape used as a weapon. Yet there were virtually no convictions. It fired me up to start working with governments and lawmakers. When it comes down to it, we still treat violence against women as a lesser crime.
On gender equality: I think of how hard women fought to get us to where we are today. Everything counts, from the way you hold yourself in your daily life and educate yourself on your own rights, to solidarity with other women around the world.
On self discovery: I tell my daughters, “What sets you apart is what you are willing to do for others. Anyone can put on a dress and makeup. It’s your mind that will define you. Find out who you are, what you think, and what you stand for. And fight for others to have those same freedoms. A life of service is worth living.”
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