Angelina Jolie

Celebrity advocate for child victims of war

While filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2000, Angelina Jolie met her first small victims of war, children who had lost limbs from stepping on the thousands of landmines plaguing that nation.
 
The encounter launched Jolie on a humanitarian voyage that has taken her through 20 nations and among some of the world's poorest people. Last year, she and her partner Brad Pitt cofounded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, a global charity that focuses on emergency relief in humanitarian hotspots. The Academy Award-winning actress has said she now gives one-third of her earnings to charity.

"I was making a lot of money for something that is a pleasure and realizing how a third of that would end up doing a lot of good," she told Readers Digest in May 2007. "I just don't need that much. It's a simple decision." Jolie is nominated as one of Beliefnet's Most Inspiring Persons of the Year for her personal commitment and ongoing work to raise awareness about humanitarian crises throughout the world.

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In 2001 Jolie approached the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and asked how she could use her celebrity to help raise awareness about places like Cambodia. Within months, she was visiting refugee camps in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. She paid the costs of all her trips and shared field accommodations with UN workers.

Later that year, the UNHCR named Jolie a Goodwill Ambassador. "We cannot close ourselves off to information and ignore the fact that millions of people are out there suffering," she said at the time. "I honestly want to help. I don't believe I feel differently from other people. I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning." This launched a transformation in her public image from tabloid "wild child" to social activist.

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Kimberly Winston
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