Last weekend Angelina Jolie won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the fifth annual Governors Awards. As I reflected on the composure, elegance, dignity and compassion Jolie radiated standing on the podium, I began thinking about her life and career as we know it, and felt instantly compelled to have her as our next "Monday Muse."
The humanitarian prize was awarded to Jolie for her charitable work with the United Nations Refugee Agency for the past decade, for which she had made over 40 field missions, including helping refugees from Cambodia and Syria -- this doesn't cover even half of her contributions to philanthropy in general. In her acceptance speech, Jolie comments on the moment she understood her responsibility to others -- the moment she realized how sheltered and fortunate her life had been, and how she decided to commit her life to helping those less fortunate. Also, not to forget -- Jolie has simultaneously been the recipient of an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. There have certainly been the cynics who doubt the integrity of her cause, and I write this in definite opposition to them.
Angelina Jolie has undertaken the most fascinating evolution in life, and as a spectator I feel one can only admire what she has achieved -- from making Girl, Interrupted, to receiving this award.Perhaps she has made a few "wrong" decisions, or run wayward a few times, but there is no denying that throughout all the choices she has made in life, and in spite of what may have been considered "right," she has remained entirely true to herself. To do this, and more importantly to do this in the public eye, requires an undeniable amount of inner strength and belief. In this world of flagrant pop culture that we live in, this world of Real Housewives and Snooki, it is so important to hold a beacon to the popular culture icons who act as genuine reflections of the society and community we live in today. Jolie in no way glorifies the shallow, materialistic and bogus temptations of our times -- we have been able to watch a woman mature and grow with her generation, using the opportunities she has been given to better herself and those around her.
There is certainly an element of surprise considering that Jolie has ended up where she has, and this can only make us applaud her all the more. I identify with a journey that started out problematic, and not without demons, and can appreciate how far she has come all the more. Her acceptance speech thanked her late mother, her role model and constant supporter. Again I can identify with this. Jolie's story is one of true resilience, she epitomizes the concept of "femininity with a bite" that so defines the woman I design for. She is this Monday's muse.