Angelina Jolie Pitt Opens Up About Raising Her Six Children, Her Mother's Death – and Giving Birth in Africa
Angelina Jolie Pitt spoke to BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour about her U.N. work and how the experience of meeting so many brave people has caused her to reflect on her own life
brightcove.createExperiences(); All parents have nicknames for their kids that they use (and sometimes holler) around the family home – and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt are no different. Step forward Shi, Mad and Z!
Jolie Pitt opened up about her children while appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour Friday morning, saying she loves watching her six kids grow and develop their own unique personalities and interests.
“All the kids are learning different languages,” Jolie Pitt, 41, said. “I asked them what languages they wanted to learn and Shi is learning Khmai, which is a Cambodian language, Pax is focusing on Vietnamese, Mad has taken to German and Russian, Z is speaking French, Vivienne really wanted to learn Arabic, and Knox is learning sign language.”
“I suppose that just means you don’t know who your children are until they show you who they are and they are just becoming whoever they want to be,” she added.
For the record: “Shi” is Jolie Pitt’s name for daughter Shiloh, 10, “Mad” is son Maddox, 14, and “Z” is daughter Zahara, 11. The actress is also mother to Pax, 12, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 7, with Pitt, 52.
While her children are busily developing into young people, there’s one thing the Oscar-winning star is certain about: They’re unlikely to follow in their parents’ Hollywood footsteps.
“None of my kids want to be actors,” revealed Jolie Pitt. “They are actually very interested in being musicians. I think they like the process of film from the outside. Mad is interested in editing. Pax loves music and deejaying”.
Jolie Pitt appeared on the Women’s Hour to talk about her experiences as a Special Envoy for the United Nations. In a wide-ranging interview, she opened up about celebrating World Refugee Day at home and how the experience of seeing women trapped in refugee camps with minimal healthcare has made her reassess her own health decisions.
Most notably, this has prompted her to reflect on her choice to have a preventive double mastectomy in 2013 and to later have her ovaries removed in 2015 – options she notes are impossible for most people stranded in a refugee camp and which her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, didn’t have information about. Bertrand died in January 2007 following an eight-year battle with ovarian cancer.
“When you go through something and you learn about yourself and your body in anything medical, you feel – it really wasn’t a decision,” said a clearly emotional Jolie Pitt. “It was just, I thought that I had gained information that I wish my mother would have known. I wish she had the option. I wish she had the surgery, in fact, and it might have given her more years with my family.”
Since her operations, Jolie Pitt has spoken openly about the thought processes behind the decisions and encouraged women to consider the procedures as an option – although she’s keen to stress that it is “just an option.”
Jolie Pitt says she’s thankful for a wider conversation on the issue following her decision to speak out about her surgeries.
“It means a great deal to me,” she adds. “If there is even one woman out there who went and got checked and found that she had cancer or she was positive and she caught something in time, and if in any small way I was a part of that, it makes me very emotional.”
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But along with raising the awareness of the issue and informing thousands of women around the world, Jolie Pitt remains keenly aware that she’s one of the very lucky ones. Having toured countless refugee camps across the Middle East and Africa, she knows better than anyone that it could have all been so very different.
“I probably wouldn’t have made it this far if I were a refugee,” she said poignantly.
Speaking earlier about her decision to give birth to her daughter Shiloh in Africa, Jolie Pitt explained how she herself came face-to-face with the healthcare problems faced by millions of other women, and how easily they can be corrected.
“I went to a hospital in Namibia, where I was having my daughter, and I was in breech. I needed a C-section, and I knew I was in breech because I had had the money to have an ultrasound,” said Jolie Pitt. “But I found even the local hospital with many, many women – and this was a good hospital – did not have an ultrasound machine.”
“So the amount of women that didn’t know they were in breech, the amount of babies and complications when they got into labor, with one simple machine,” she said. “But I know there are many extraordinary people who are working on this and women’s health around the world, and many groups dedicated solely to that, and their work is so needed and these solutions can come.”