Thursday, November 5, 2009

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Angelina Jolie was born on June 4th, 1975 in Los Angeles, California to Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight and actress Marcheline Bertrand. Voight and Bertrand also gave birth to James Haven, Angelina's notorious brother. Before Angelina could walk, Voight and Bertrand were split and James and his sister were raised by their mother, creating a very close bond with Angelina. When Bertrand died earlier this year from cancer, Angelina was shattered.

Angelina Jolie claims that she went to the movies regularly with her mother when she was a child and it was this, not the careers of her famous parents, that led her into acting. At the age of 11, Angelina Jolie was enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, a very famous acting school that has produced countless Hollywood icons. She trained there for two years before moving on to Beverly Hills High School, where she felt like the outcast. Bertrand didn't have a lot of money and wearing second-hand clothes in the 90210 area code can make you the object of scorn by your fellow students. Angelina also claims that she was an ugly duckling with distinctive features, glasses, braces, and not too much meat on her bones.

Jolie fell into self-loathing and lashed out as she grew older. She dropped out of acting classes when she turned fourteen and entered what she calls a rebellious period in her life, living with a boyfriend, wearing exclusively black, and dying her hair purple. Two years later, the relationship ended and Jolie returned to theater. She graduated from high school and soon broke into Hollywood. She was almost an immediate hit.

Jolie started as a fashion model with Finesse Model Management and got regular work in both the States and Europe. Jolie even appeared in music videos, as models regularly do, and late at night (when cable actually plays music videos) you might catch her in "Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through" by Meat Loaf, "Stand by My Woman" by Lenny Kravitz, or "It's About Time" by The Lemonheads.

She returned to theatre at the age of 16 and appeared in her brother's student films as he attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Her film career started weakly, as most of them do, in Cyborg 2 as Casella "Cash" Reese in 1993. Two years later, she had what could be called her breakthrough, a cult hit called Hackers, where she met her first husband, Jonny Lee Miller. A few comedies and action movies followed, including Playing God with David Duchovny, and she starred in a great music video for The Rolling Stones, "Anybody Seen My Baby?"

The breakthroughs came back-to-back-to-back for Angelina Jolie in the late '90s. First, Angelina starred in George Wallace, a TV movie that earned her a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. Jolie proved she could hold her own against acclaimed actors like Gary Sinise. Her next TV movie, Gia, really introduced Angelina Jolie to the world, in more ways than one, and earned her a consecutive Golden Globe award and an Emmy nomination. She even won the SAG Award that year for Gia.

There were a few other small roles, but the next year produced the big breakthrough in Girl, Interrupted, a film that won Angelina Jolie an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She wasn't even 25 years old and she had an Oscar, three Golden Globes, a SAG Award, and multiple other nominations. Oh, and she was widely becoming recognized as one of the most beautiful women in the world.

As most award-winners do, Angelina Jolie turned that critically acclaimed early period into a commercially successful few years, landing major roles in films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She would also appear in films by Oliver Stone (Alexander), Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart), and Robert DeNiro (The Good Shepherd).

Despite some box office hits and some critically acclaimed performances, the last half-decade of Angelina Jolie's life has been arguably more well-known for her personal choices than her professional ones. Jolie was married to Jonny Lee Miller, but moved on to a high profile relationship with Billy Bob Thornton and a little pairing that you might have heard of called Brangelina. After meeting on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Angelina Jolie stole Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston and the two most beautiful people in Hollywood were finally a pair.

And they were soon parents. Before Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie had adopted Maddox Chivan from Cambodia in 2002 and Zahara Marley from Ethopia in 2005. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie gave birth to their own child in 2006, Shiloh Nouvel, and adopted a fourth child, a Vietnamese orphan who they named Pax Thien in 2007.

In the '00s, Angelina Jolie became one of the most active and humanitarian of all public figures, being named a Goodwill Ambassador in August of 2001 by the UNHCR. Unlike a lot of celebs, Angelina Jolie puts her time and energy where her mouth is, regularly visiting countries like Thailand, Ecuador, Kenya, Sudan, and many more. In 2003 alone, she spent time in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Russia, Jordan, and Egypt. She's very serious about her humanitarian work, even though it doesn't get nearly the headlines of her latest fashion choices or public tiff with Brad Pitt. In 2003, she won the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association. Citizen of the World! And that wasn't for her work in Original Sin.

Angelina Jolie is already an Oscar winner, mother of four, box office superstar, and one of the most important world figures when it comes to humanitarian causes, and she's only 32. It's amazing to think about how much more she will accomplish in the next few decades.

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