Story of Strive: Angelina Jolie Diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy

Source: Journeying beyond breast cancer

In a recent interview for the Vanity Fair magazine, Angelina Jolie openly discussed her struggle with Bell’s palsy, a disease that paralyzes one side of the face. She openly discussed ignoring her health while taking care of her six children after her divorce from Brad Pitt. She emphasized that one must always take care of their health. Bell’s palsy affects 40,000 Americans each year and due to the lack of research, the cause is unknown. Jolie’s candid interview is another in a series of meaningful endeavors and pursuits she has undertaken throughout her career.

Angelina Jolie was born to Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertand, both actors, on June 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, California.

Formative Years

She went to the Beverly Hills High School after which she enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.

While there is no denying that Jolie was born to well-off parents known well in Hollywood, her formative years were anything but a cruise. The problems started with friction between her parents due to her father’s unfaithfulness towards her mother. The constant friction and fighting culminated into Jolie’s parents getting divorced. Her mother brought Jolie up single-handedly while struggling to make ends meet. Jolie blamed her father for her troubles, and her relationship with her father was always on the tenterhooks. She even refused to take her father’s surname. It was clear that Angela Jolie is a rebel who won’t take things lying down and express herself.

Her troubled childhood also included suffering from depression, anorexia, substance abuse, and developing suicidal tendencies. She was also subjected to bullying and ridicule due to her somewhat different looks and demeanor; her classmates at Beverly High School used to call her “Urangi Lips”, “gazelle,”  and other names.

Early Career

After school, she enrolled herself at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, but dropped out of the acting classes by the age of 14. She decided to become a professional actor by the time she was 16. Jolie went through a number of auditions, often failing them. But, she persisted. She landed her first lead role in the 1993 science-fiction movie, Cyborg 2. The film was a flop, Jolie got disheartened and decided to give up her acting career. In fact, she didn’t audition for the next whole year.

It was in 1995 that she got another meaty role in Hackers, a mainstream Hollywood production about high school hackers who got caught in a corporate extortion conspiracy. Initially not very keen to do it, Jolie finally accepted the role and it turned out to be a milestone in her career. The film wasn’t a box-office hit but, over the course of time, built a cult following. Jolie received praise from all corners for her role as a computer hacker. It was this appreciation that the actress in Jolie craved for, and she decided to pursue her acting career seriously. In the next couple of years, she did some nondescript movies such as Love is All There and Mojave Moon. Not surprisingly, the critics were out with their knives, slashing and jabbing at anything right from Jolie’s lack of acting talent to her strange looks.

The Taste of Success

With doubts again creeping in, Jolie found great success for her role in the 1997 film, “George Wallace.” It was a thumping performance that won her a Golden Globe; everyone sat up and took notice of this new sensation. Jolie struck gold again the next year winning another Golden Globe for her portrayal of a supermodel in Gia. Jolie was the toast of the town, with the erstwhile bitter critics showering praises for her impressive roles.

With her professional career looking up, the unconventional streak in Jolie again struck as she decided to give up acting and pursue the study of filmmaking and script writing. Pretty soon, however, she changed her mind again and came back to acting. And this time, she delivered even more solid performances with films like The Bone Collector and Girl, Interrupted. On an upswing, Jolie stepped up her game. She worked even harder, bagged a string of powerful roles and she delivered stunning performances, one after the other. Big movies such as Lara Croft: The Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith made Jolie a successful top-ranking star. Of course, she kept on doing duds as well that kept critics busy. But, having complete belief in herself and her abilities, Jolie stayed put and continued doing what she knew best—acting.

Standing up to the Media

Throughout her career, Jolie’s sexuality has always received a lot of coverage in the press. Right from being questioned about her bisexuality, incest, and her breakups, Jolie has always been a subject of media’s intense scrutiny. It’s to her credit that not only has she chosen to speak about these things only when she wanted to but also do it unabashedly. Jolie also went through a lot of ups and downs when it came to partners and marriage right up till the early 2000s. With all these troubles under constant media watch, a lot of people can crumble but Jolie has come out triumphant.

Going Beyond Material Success: Serving the Humanity

Amidst the eventful journey riddled with lots of emotions, Jolie also started to develop another side of her personality – becoming a humanitarian. During the filming of Lara Croft: The Tomb Raider in Cambodia, Jolie experienced firsthand the ravages of a humanitarian crisis. This followed up with visits to war-torn Sierra Leone and Tanzania, which further opened her eyes. Subsequently, Jolie realized how much grief there is around the world and she decided to become someone who is not only concerned about it but is also willing to work to make the world a better place. Since then, Jolie has used her star status to make a difference in multiple humanitarian causes she has been a part of.

Jolie had been a UN Goodwill ambassador for more than a decade in 2012 after which she got promoted as the Special Envoy to High Commissioner António Guterres. Jolie has worked on issues such as child immigration, child education, human rights, women’s rights, community development and conservation, among many others. This tells a lot about how passionately she feels about the causes that affect our world and address these effectively.

Jolie, and her husband of 12 years, Brad Pitt, with whom she recently separated have also been widely known for adopting children from crisis-stricken places. Witnessing the humanitarian crisis in Cambodia in 2002, Jolie adopted Maddox from an orphanage there. This was followed by Pax Thein who was adopted in 2003 from Vietnam, and then Zahara from Ethiopia in 2005. Jolie also gave birth to three children.

A Fighter to the Core

In 2013, Jolie learned that she had a defective BRCA1 gene that rendered her highly prone to developing breast cancer. Her mother has died from breast cancer. She subsequently went on to have mastectomy done to significantly lower her chances of developing breast cancer. In 2015, she also decided to undergo a preventive oophorectomy to minimize her chances of getting ovarian cancer. She was quite open discussing her surgeries in public. Being a major public figure, that helped a lot of women make informed choices about their body. Jolie said she never felt a lesser woman after the surgeries and felt the decisions were right for the circumstances. The widespread global coverage about her surgeries resulted in a lot of coverage and discussion on BRCA1 gene mutation and genetic testing.

Recently, Jolie has also spoken about her struggle with Bell’s palsy, a relatively unknown neurological disorder that affects one side of the face.

Being a responsible human, Jolie has used every opportunity that can help people around the world. This single trait has made Jolie a true global ambassador for humankind.

A Journey From the Dark to Being a Leading Light

From being considered a rebel and maverick teenager who suffered from depression and had suicidal tendencies, Jolie has come a long way. Angelina Jolie is now well known as a hugely successful, talented actress, surreally beautiful, compassionate, intelligent, and an empathetic individual. She has not only transformed into a hugely successful Hollywood star but more importantly into a considerate human being who constantly strives to make the world a better place. She is not just concerned superficially but works extremely hard to understand problems people face around the world, especially the extremely poor countries, and leverage her clout as a global star and UN ambassador to make a positive and lasting impact. Her story of perseverance is worth a hundred tales and the one that inspires a lot of people all over the world.

Angelina Jolie has achieved roaring success after overcoming a lot of setbacks and persevering amidst crisis. How are you striving? Sign up to be notified when the Strive book becomes available.