Angelina Jolie covers the December/January issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine photographed by Sølve Sundsbø and styled by fashion editor Patrick Mackie.
As we wrap up 2019, and look ahead to 2020, Harper’s Bazaar chose Angelina Jolie to grace our final issue of the year because quite simply, there’s no one else like her. Jolie has spent nearly 20 years with the UN Refugee Agency fighting for the rights and freedoms of displaced people, and over 10 years funding schools for girls from Afghanistan to Kenya to Cambodia. She is a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics, educating students on peace and security and the fight for women’s rights internationally. She champions women’s health – in particular, treatment for cancer – with honesty and openness about her own health experiences in years past. Here, she writes candidly about “visible and invisible scars,” her fight for freedom around the world, and why she doesn’t mind sharing her new home in Cambodia with a family of chipmunks.
On finding a true self: “The part of us that is free, wild, open, curious can get shut down by life. By pain or by harm. My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it. They have been through a lot. I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are, and all that they know in their hearts to be right, and they look back at us and want the same for us.”
On how she handles being misunderstood: “I have a tattoo, ‘A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages.’ I got it when I was 20. I was with my mom one evening, and I was feeling lost. I was restless—always. I still am. We were driving to dinner, and she talked about spending time with Tennessee Williams and how much she loved his words. She told me he wrote that, about the wild at heart. We drove to a tattoo parlor, and I got it inked on my left arm. What she did for me that night was to remind me that the wild within me is alright and a part of me.”
On looking ahead to 2020: “My dream for everyone in 2020 is to remember who they are and to be who they are regardless of what might be disrupting their ability to be free. If you feel you are not living your life fully, try to identify what it is or who it is that is blocking you from breathing. Identify and fight past whatever is oppressing you. That takes many forms, and it is going to be a different fight for everyone. I say this with a deep understanding that for so many women, freedom is simply not an option. Their own system, community, family, government works against them and is part of what is shutting them down.”
On how the most dangerous place for some women today is their own home: “There are still more than a dozen countries where violence against a wife or family member is legal. And more than 10 countries where perpetrators of rape can still escape prosecution if they marry the victim. And there are more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including nearly 26 million refugees. None of this is just ‘the way the world is.’ It is something monstrously out of balance. And our response can’t be to shrug or to think only about our own countries, because we are all connected. This is a time to fight. If there is a fight in this life, it must be for freedoms and rights. And if we have our freedom, we must fight for others who don’t.”
On politics worldwide: “We’re seeing a retreat of values worldwide. Many governments are less willing to stand up for the kinds of values that previous generations fought and died to secure. When governments stand back, people have to lead the way.”
Cover: Gown by Oscar de la Renta from the Resort 2020 Collection
Image 1: Serpenti Ring by Bulgari
Image 2: Ball Gown by Giambattista Valli from the Fall 2019 Couture Collection
[Photo Credit: Sølve Sundsbø/Harper’s Bazaar Magazine]