Angelina Jolie opens up about her mother’s death and giving birth in Africa
The Oscar winning actress and mom of six talks about her kids, her late mother, and what must be done to uplift the lives of refugees worldwide.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, the Oscar winning actress/producer/director and special envoy for the United Nations marvelled at how much her six kids are growing into their own unique personalities.
“None of my kids want to be actors,” revealed Jolie-Pitt. “They are actually very interested in being musicians. I think they like the process of film from the outside. Mad is interested in editing. Pax loves music and deejaying”.
Though they may not exactly be following in her and husband Brad Pitt’s Hollywood footsteps, they have taken an interest in one of her biggest passions—being fascinated by cultures outside their own.
Aside from showing an interest in music and film production, the six Jolie-Pitt kids (Maddox, 14, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 7)
“All the kids are learning different languages,” said the 41-year-old actress. “I asked them what languages they wanted to learn and Shi is learning Khmai, which is a Cambodian language, Pax is focusing on Vietnamese, Mad has taken to German and Russian, Z is speaking French, Vivienne really wanted to learn Arabic, and Knox is learning sign language.”
She also took the time during the interview to open up about how celebrating World Refugee Day has been their family tradition and how learning about the struggles of women in refugee camps with limited access to healthcare inspired her to rethink her own health choices.
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Next page: Why she chose to have both breasts and ovaries removed
Back in 2013, she opted to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. Two years later, she stunned the world yet again when she chose to have both her ovaries removed, knowing she was predisposed to developing ovarian cancer. These decisions, she notes, are not possible options for many women in refugee camps.
Even her own mother, Marcheline Bertrand, didn’t have access to information that could have helped her throughout her eight-year battle with ovarian cancer, to which she succumbed in January 2007.
“I wish she had the surgery, in fact, and it might have given her more years with my family.”
“When you go through something and you learn about yourself and your body in anything medical, you feel – it really wasn’t a decision,” Jolie-Pitt emotionally said. “It was just, I thought that I had gained information that I wish my mother would have known. I wish she had the option. I wish she had the surgery, in fact, and it might have given her more years with my family.”
Since her two publicized operations, she has not hesitated to reveal the reasons behind her decisions and encouraged other women to consider this as an option.
She values whatever contribution she has had to make conversations like this public.
“It means a great deal to me,” she adds. “If there is even one woman out there who went and got checked and found that she had cancer or she was positive and she caught something in time, and if in any small way I was a part of that, it makes me very emotional.”
Next page: Giving birth for the first time in Africa
Though she’s raising awareness on the inadequate health care received by refugee women worldwide, she acknowledged how lucky she is—a realization brought on by her interactions with refugees in camps across Africa and the Middle East.
“I probably wouldn’t have made it this far if I were a refugee,” she said.
She also notes how easily these healthcare problems can be corrected. She gave birth for the first time in Africa, making this decision after she filmed Beyond Borders in the country.
“I found even the local hospital with many, many women – and this was a good hospital – did not have an ultrasound machine.”
“I went to a hospital in Namibia, where I was having my daughter, and I was in breech. I needed a C-section, and I knew I was in breech because I had had the money to have an ultrasound,” she recounted. “But I found even the local hospital with many, many women – and this was a good hospital – did not have an ultrasound machine.”
Most of Namibia’s population of nearly two million are living in poverty. Many of the women don’t have the luxury of undergoing ultrasound, a simple routine assessment in most countries.
“So the amount of women that didn’t know they were in breech, the amount of babies and complications when they got into labor, with one simple machine,” she revealed. “But I know there are many extraordinary people who are working on this and women’s health around the world, and many groups dedicated solely to that, and their work is so needed and these solutions can come.”
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