You can learn a lot from someone’s Instagram page. In Angelina Jolie’s case, her profile tells a story of someone who cares deeply about her children, the planet, and the people living on it.
After resisting any involvement with social media for decades, the star’s decision to join Instagram last August was something of a shock. Her first post was a letter from a teenage girl in Afghanistan, detailing the terrors of living under the Taliban regime. The post gained more than 700,000 likes within four hours and has since been liked more than 4 million times.
At the time of writing, Jolie’s account boasts well over 11 million followers—yet the actor only follows three accounts: civil rights organisation NAACP, humanitarian NGO Doctors Without Borders, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Jolie may have become famous on account of her award-winning performances, but there is little suggestion of her primary occupation on her feed.
Instead, social media has become Jolie’s way of continuing her activism and spreading awareness of important topics, which has not been physically possible during the pandemic, something she has struggled with. “Not being able to visit the field for UN work has been hard. I’ve joined Instagram and am trying to use tools like that while I am limited in other ways,” she says.
The actor has spoken out on human rights, environmental issues, domestic violence awareness and youth protection, but at the heart of everything she fights for are “people worldwide who live with the daily reality of conflict and persecution”, she says; “people who have stood up against oppression, or refused to take up arms in a conflict, or left it all behind to give their children a chance at a better life and to live in safety.”
And far from just lending her face and name to a cause, Jolie believes in walking the walk. She started her activism work nearly two decades ago in 2003, having fallen in love with Cambodia while filming Tomb Raider, and set up the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, named after her eldest son, whom she adopted from the country in 2002. Her vision was to reduce rural poverty, protect the environment and conserve wildlife in the rural north-western part of the country.