Angelina Jolie sat down with her longtime friend Mariane Pearl in April of 2017 to talk about Jolie’s late mother, Marcheline Bertrand, and her effect on how Jolie sees herself as a mother. As a mother of six, Angelina Jolie has learned something about the art of parenting. With three adopted children and three naturally born children that are growing up in the public eye, Jolie has more than an inkling of the kinds of pressures that come with that.
Jolie herself grew up living with the pressure of having famous parents and a name to live up to. As the daughter of Marcheline Bertrand and Jon Voight, Jolie carried the Voight name with her through her enrollment at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and Beverly Hills High School. Jon left Marcheline and his children before Jolie had turned a year old after having an affair, and has had a fairly dysfunctional relationship with Angelina throughout the years. About her father, Jolie has kept him distant, deciding not to tell him about her preventive double masectomy in 2013. He also did not attend her wedding to her third husband, Brad Pitt. The pair have reconciled and been estranged in cycles through the years, however, with the pair still attempting to salvage a relationship.
As far as her mother goes, Angelina Jolie speaks with a quiet reverence about Bertrand. Speaking about Marcheline Bertrand to Marie Claire, Jolie had this to say.
“She [Marcheline] was a very natural woman who never spoiled herself, never wore makeup, and wore modest jewelry…”
Bertrand passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 56 in 2007. It was this as well as the detection of the BRCA1 gene mutation that led Jolie to choose to have the double masectomy and an oophorectomy in 2015. Part of that choice was also driven by her never wanting her children to say that their mother died of ovarian cancer.
It’s no secret that Jolie misses her mother terribly. Bertrand was alive to see her first natural-born granddaughter, Shiloh in 2006, and was enormously proud of all four of her grandchildren at the time. When asked what she tells her children about their grandmother, Jolie says that she thinks that Bertrand would have excelled as a grandmother.
“I know how much she would have contributed to their lives and I am sad they will miss out on that. I would give anything for her to be with me at this time. I’ve needed her. I talk to her often in my mind and try to think what she might say and how she might guide me.”
Jolie has always spoken about how much of an influence her mother has had on her life. When she spoke to 60 Minutes in 2011, she said that her mother was an incarnation of grace and that Jolie wondered if she could ever be as good of a mother as Bertrand was. Still, Angelina wants to be an example for her children, just as her mother was for her. To Angelina Jolie, being a mother is the greatest responsibility and gift. It means that she must do everything she can to live as an example for her children as she lives by her values.
For Jolie, part of those values includes her activism in politics and humanitarian aid. Jolie is a Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, and has been known to donate proceeds from her work to humanitarian causes. For example, when Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline were born on July 12, 2008, she and Brad Pitt sold the rights to the baby pictures to People and Hello! for $14 million, all of which was donated to their foundation. Much the same happened when Shiloh was born, with the $7.6 million being donated to UNICEF. Jolie added this when speaking about passing on her values to her children.
“I try to lead by example, being conscious of others and being responsible. And to help them have a broader view of the world. But really the only way I know to raise them is to really listen. It’s perhaps the most important thing any parent can do. They are resilient children but they are children, and as much as they need help to understand the hard truths in life they also need what we all need – protection and love”
[Featured Image via Kevork Djanzezian/AP Images]