Mother of six Angelina Jolie, who turned 43 this year, embraces getting older. “Wisdom, understanding, clarity of thought – all the things that come with age are also beautiful and feminine qualities. “I’d like to think we all get better with age – men and women.” Looking in the mirror these days, Angelina says she sees her mother Marcheline Bertrand looking back, which “warms her”. An actress and humanitarian like her daughter, Marcheline, who died from ovarian cancer in 2007, is the reason Angelina was drawn to fragrance house Guerlain. Before being unveiled as the face of its new perfume Mon Guerlain last year, the Oscar-winning actress hadn’t appeared in a beauty campaign for ten years, but when chief executive Laurent Boillot flew out to Cambodia to discuss the opportunity, Angelina was reminded of her mother’s love of a particular Guerlain face powder. “She hardly ever wore make-up, but she saved this powder for special occasions,” she tells us. “I grew up thinking of Guerlain as this very fancy French brand.” Having directed last year’s Golden Globe and Bafta-nominated First They Killed My Father, Angelina returned to acting this year, voicing one of the characters in Disney’s The One and Only Ivan and filming Maleficent 2 in the UK. HELLO! caught up with her ahead of the launch of a eau de toilette version of Mon Guerlain to find out more about the new fragrance and how the brand is paying tribute to her mother.
Speaking about how her children influence her choice of work, she revealed: “I think first of my family when I’m deciding to take a job, like any parent. The One and Only Ivan is a book that Shiloh loved and brought to me, and that’s when I joined the development of the film years ago. Shi has a sanctuary for wounded elephant and rhino in her name in Namibia and my character in the film, Stella the elephant, calls sanctuaries ‘where humans make amends’. I’m filming a Peter Pan prequel next called Come Away. The kids love the connection with Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, which owns the rights to Peter Pan.”
The actress was shooting Maleficent 2 in the UK this summer and she explains that her children enjoyed their trip to the UK. “They love travelling in general. One of my favourite things is packing with the kids when we are about to set off on a new adventure. They are really self-sufficient travellers. Shi always has more books than clothes. Zahara is always perfectly organised.” Angelina catches up with the news when she is in the makeup chair. “I use the time to read the news or, if I’m planning a refugee visit with [the United Nations refugee agency] UNHCR or a speech, to work on that,” she explains. And just like everybody else, she likes to pamper herself when she has time, but she doesn’t like a fuss! “I like simplicity. For example, an all-in-one hair, face and body oil. In general, I think we don’t always get the nurturing we need as women. Learning to care for yourself and to value yourself is a lifelong process.” Angelina also revealed the special way she relaxes and winds down in the evenings, and it may surprise you! “It is not a ritual, but I often cut the kids’ hair. They ask and I love that.” Guerlain is bringing back the pressed powder the Mr and Mrs Smith actress’s mother once used, as part of its Christmas collection, which means a great deal to the Oscar winner. “The powder always made my mom feel special – to think she was in a small way a part of it returning would make her blush. She would, in fact, feel like the lady she really was and often didn’t feel as a single mother who had very little time for herself.”
Speaking about what sets the Mon Guerlain Eau de Toilette apart from the Eau de Parfum, Angelina explained: “The vibrancy and freshness of the mandarin in the new Mon Guerlain compared to the deep sandalwood and lavender of the original. It’s like the difference between night and day. My daughter Zahara prefers it.” Mon Guerlain is a tribute to femininity today, and femininity means a lot to Angelina. “There is not one version of femininity. It means different things at different times and in different places. It can be a certain softness and grace, but it is also women marching or fighting for their rights or the rights of others. Women today often feel they’re pulled in many different directions and their femininity gets lost…Women have always taken on a lot and we are prepared to take on much more. It’s in our nature. But we need to remember to take care of ourselves, too. There is nothing more attractive than someone being fully themselves, without inhibition, in whatever form that takes. We all recognise it when we see it – those women whose beauty is their spirit and their inability to be anything other than true to themselves.”
And it was when she had children that the actress felt most at ease with her femininity: “That sense of ease grows and changes with each passing year and each stage in life. For me, it is about learning to accept yourself and what life brings. Equality is not about us all being the same; it is about the freedom to make our own choices and live our own lives fully – not at the expense of men, but alongside men. It is not about taking each other down but building each other up. I think it is not said enough how much we need the men in our lives to be strong and capable and the best they can be.” And with that thought, Angelina feels there are certain ways we can educate children about feminism: “Through strong and diverse female role models.”
Many people may be surprised to know that the glamorous film star has a pilot’s licence! “I do love the feeling of freedom when flying. I’m most at home in the field, visiting refugees, or working to find solutions on international issues.”
As a special envoy to the UNHCR, Angelina spoke on dealing with the refugee problem. “It can’t be separated from the overall state of politics and diplomacy in the world. If we are not prepared to stand up for human rights and the rule of law, we will see more conflicts and more refugees being created. There are more than 60 million displaced people internationally who want to be able to return to their homes and live in stable countries. People are being encouraged to believe that it is all hopeless and that the answer is to turn away from the world, but it is simply not true. We need diplomacy and leadership from powerful countries.”