Women Empowerment: Angelina Jolie

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: Angelina Jolie attends the European premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" at Odeon IMAX Waterloo on October 09, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

“Every woman has a right not only to independence and security but to live her life to the full and to express herself to the full, including through art and ideas as well as politics. That right is often denied to women because it is so powerful. Art influences. Art catches the imagination. Art challenges orthodoxy and societies where women are denied freedom of expression.”

Angelina Jolie made these remarks in 2017 at THR’s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast. She has continued to embody these sentiments in her words, advocacy, and actions. Using her fame to empower women around the world is for sure one of Angelina’s life superpowers. And we love watching her do her thing!

A Career In Creating

As a successful actress, producer, and director, Angelina Jolie understands the power and influence of art in culture. She has starred in many successful movies, winning an Oscar for Best Actress for Changeling in 2009. She was nominated again in 2011 and 2015 for Salt and Maleficent respectively. Angelina has also stepped to the other side of the camera to direct movies such as First They Killed My Father and In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Since her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2001), which had filming locations in Cambodia, Angelina Jolie has become active in philanthropic efforts worldwide. The natural beauty of the country contrasted with the impoverished conditions she witnessed inspired action. From that spark of awareness has come more than two decades of work to improve conditions and empower women, girls, and their communities worldwide. Angelina was named the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy in 2012.

She is a mother of six, including three adopted and three biological children with her ex-husband, Brad Pitt. If being an actress, director, and mother were not enough, she still manages to devote many resources to nearly thirty different charities, including her own, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

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The Power of Art

The increasing cultural awareness in recent years surrounding women’s rights in the workplace has sparked a sense of solidarity among women in the arts. Art seems, to Angelina, to be a vehicle of expression and give a voice to women who otherwise would not have one. It is a peaceful means of influence that can powerfully shape perceptions and challenge corrupt institutions.

“We have…the ability to help those women, artists struggling, to help find a way to make sure their voices are heard.”

Angelina Jolie

Perhaps the most poignant element of Angelina’s 2017 speech was her call to look beyond the injustices that women in the “free world” face. She urged others to recognize that the plight of women in other parts of the world is much more dire and deserving of urgent awareness and action.

As an actress and activist who gained considerable cultural, professional, and political influence through her career, she gives a voice to women worldwide whose voices are suppressed. She advises her colleagues to be grateful for their ability to express themselves freely within the United States’s current political framework.

“We have a level of freedom that is unimaginable for millions of other women around the world — women who live with conflict and terrorism and displacement and poverty, who never get a chance, whose voices are always silenced.”

It’s Jolie’s wish that women all over the world experience these same freedoms. “Together, we stand for more than our own rights and freedoms, but the freedom and rights of all women. We in this room have the ability to help find those women artists struggling to make their voices heard today; to show solidarity with them, to champion them, to help them tell their stories.”

The Road Ahead

While politics may shape institutions, art shapes culture; something that Angelina is very much aware of at this point in her career. Angelina Jolie has many new projects in the works right now, including Atelier Jolie, a new outlet and expression of her dedication to art.

This creative collective is her first foray into the fashion design world. She hopes to build a conscientious, collaborative community that focuses on transforming leftover materials and upcycling vintage items. It is more than another celebrity designer label. She hopes it will be a place where creative people can discover the joy in the fashion design process.

The project aims to shine a spotlight on the tailors who bring the art of fashion to life, while celebrating the joy of creating the “new” and updating the older pieces.

As for now, these projects are still in their early days. However, it’s clear that Angelina’s vision as an artist is much broader than Hollywood box office sales. She wants to make a difference through her art and to empower others to do the same. She wants to tell intriguing stories, not for the sake of Hollywood, but for the impact that these stories have on real lives, especially women throughout the world.

Feature Image: Angelina Jolie attends the European premiere of “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” at Odeon IMAX Waterloo on October 09, 2019 in London, England | Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

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