Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“None of my kids want to be actors, thank God”: Angelina Jolie talks family, cancer and the refugee crisis

angelina.jpg

Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous women in the world, yet she remains something of an enigma. In recent years, she has largely eschewed the Hollywood spotlight, preferring to focus on her work as special envoy to the UN and directing defiantly uncommercial films like The Land of Blood and Honey and By the Sea.

But the actress, humanitarian activist and director spoke candidly on Radio 4 on Friday morning about her work as a UN special envoy, her breast cancer treatment, and her children. 

Jolie was one of the guest editors of Woman's Hour, as part of a "Takeover Week" in which prominent women spoke about issues close to their hearts. In the 45-minute programme, Jolie chose to focus on the issue of women's health in refugee camps, ahead of World Refugee Day on Monday 20 June. 

aj

Angelina Jolie at the Global Refugee Crisis Conference in London on Thursday 16 May 2016

“When we talk about health for refugees, I think the way to think about it is that it’s a luxury,” she told Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray. She explained that due to the lack of UN funds for supporting the crisis in Syria, the basic needs of refugees – from nutrition and medical care to “luxuries” such as soap – are not being met. In this context, even common health problems can be devastating. “I just met a woman two weeks ago whose child died of asthma,” Jolie said. “So when we talk about [refugees who have] cancer, can you imagine the reality of that?”

In 2013, Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an almost 90 per cent chance of developing breast cancer. Her mother, grandmother and aunt all died as a result of a defective hereditary gene.

She said that working with refugee women had made her realise how fortunate she was to have access to proper healthcare – and that she had spoken openly about her decision to undergo a mastectomy in order to share information that might help other women.

“I don’t encourage every women to make the decision I made,” she said. “But I think it’s really important that we all share anything we learn and we stay connected. I believe in that the way women can share and support each other.”

aj

Angelina Jolie with four of her six children (L-R): Shiloh, Knox, Pax and Vivienne

Jolie also spoke affectionately about her family, revealing that they celebrate World Refugee Day at home and that each of her six children with Brad Pitt is learning a different language. Shiloh, 10, is learning Khmer; Pax, 12, is studying Vietnamese; Maddox, 14, German and Russian; Zahara, 11, French. The 7-year-old twins, Vivienne and Knox, are learning Arabic and sign language respectively.

She added that none of the children have expressed any interest in following in their parents' footsteps. “None of my kids want to be actors, thank God... I suppose that just means that you don’t know who your children are until they show you who they are, and they’re just becoming whoever they want to be.”

Listen to Angelina Jolie’s Woman’s Hour Takeover here.


Images: Rex Features

Related

rexfeatures_5345742p.jpg

Angelina Jolie set to teach a unique course about women in London

1111.jpg

“The government decision on child refugees makes me ashamed”

angelina mother.jpg

Angelina Jolie reveals she never wanted children

Jazz Ohara Calais Camp.jpg

“I quit my career in fashion to volunteer in the Calais refugee camp”

Kate-Moss-by-Mario-Testino-for-Fashion-Targets-Breast-Cancer-2016.jpg

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell team up for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

rexfeatures_5354914aa.jpg

“It was just so weird.” Angelina Jolie on filming sex scenes with Brad

GettyImages-513713272.jpg

“Syria – it’s simpler than they want us to believe”

dating-post-cancer-world-5.JPG

What its like to date as 30-year-old woman recovering from cancer

x_tdy_joliepitt_151030.nbcnews-ux-1080-600.jpg

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt talk about cancer scares and marriage

Comments

More

Helen Mirren on lacking confidence and self-esteem

“I thought I looked stupid when I smiled”

by Amy Swales
24 Feb 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Reese Witherspoon's Southern roots to Beyoncé's mother-daughter selfie

by Nicola Colyer
24 Feb 2017

Why Emma Thompson won’t do Love Actually 2 without Alan Rickman

“There isn’t much comic relief in the loss of our dear friend”

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Caitlyn Jenner calls out Trump for failing to protect trans rights

“This is a disaster. You can still fix it.”

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

Oprah Winfrey nails the problem with the term “childless woman”

Winfrey is no less a mother for not having given birth or changed nappies

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Martine McCutcheon reveals what’s next for Natalie in Love Actually 2

So… are they still together in the sequel?

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

Louis Theroux targets Donald Trump in new documentary

Because he’s the hero we deserve

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

Katy Perry takes down Theresa May and Donald Trump at the Brits 2017

Her politically charged performance did not go unnoticed

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

“Access to civil partnership is a feminist issue”

Katie Russell explains why the institution of marriage does not serve women

by The Stylist web team
22 Feb 2017

Katy Perry’s “best friend” Sia helped her beat the Donald Trump blues

Hey, what are friends for?

by Moya Crockett
22 Feb 2017