Angelina Opens Up About Her Time In Chad

While we can't wait to see Angelina's next film project, it's no secret that in the meantime she remains committed to her aid work in Africa and around the world. For her recent trip to visit Darfur refugees in Chad, Angelina invited along a photographer and afterwards sat down with Newsweek to talk about her experiences. The images from her trip, like the one below of a young boy who remains tethered for fear that he will run away after witnessing atrocities that have left him psychologically unwell, are intense and heartbreaking, to say the least. Here's an excerpt from her interview:


When did it occur to you that you could do something about this directly? Did people approach you or —
I approached them. I think they thought I was a little crazy.

When was this?
Six years ago. I was very nervous to call the U.N. agency at the time. I [was] considered a rebel in Hollywood. At the time I was also a bit of the wild child. So first I went to Washington [to the UNHCR office] and I sat with everybody there and said, "You know, I know you don't know me. You might have heard things about me… And I don't want to bring negative attention to your agency. If you could just help me, I'll pay my way."

I spent the next year and a half going to, first, two camps in Africa, and then Pakistan and Cambodia. And with no cameras and with no press and had the opportunity to have this great education before I spoke at all…. I was transformed in such an amazing way.

To see more from the interview just read more

But you do have photographers following you now.
It took me a while to agree to do it. I guess I saw that so many times the picture comes before the knowledge and the substance and I certainly didn't want to do that to myself or the organization. And also, I really just was shy. I was shy about sitting on the floor and talking to a woman and having a camera take a picture because I thought it was making less of my conversation with her. But… I was changed by the faces of the people I saw. "It is something that I am incapable of describing...those faces and that place and those people. And so I think it's just—let the people speak for themselves through the camera. And if I can draw you in a little because I'm familiar, then that's great. Because I know that at the end you're not looking at me, you're looking at them.

I think it's fair to say people start out by looking at you, Angelina.
As long as they end up looking at them, that's the point.

Do you worry about people who say this is celebrity tourism?
I don't know if anybody saying that has spent the last six years of their life going to over 30 camps and really spending time with these people. I can't care. At the end of the day, I'm sure a lot of criticism could keep a lot of people from doing this kind of work…

If someone had a direct criticism of my opinion on the issue, if someone had a direct criticism of the image shown because they think it hurts somebody then I will take that into consideration. But there are a lot of people that simply have an immediate gut reaction and they just don't want to combine artists with foreign policy. And hey, I understand. I get it. I know where you're coming from. And to each his own. … You know, I was more shy when I first went into a camp that other field officers would not want me there.

There will always be ways to find fault with Angelina and her efforts, but I do think she is committed and deserves positive recognition, too. At least she seems not to care what the public says either way.

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