Parenting adopted children has been the ultimate life lesson for Angelina Jolie.
The actor heaped praise on her Ethiopian-born daughter Zahara Jolie-Pitt in a recent interview, expressing that she’s “in awe of” how the 15-year-old honors her roots to her home country.
“My daughter is from Ethiopia, one of my children,” Jolie said during a video conversation with Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate. “And I have learned so much from her. She is my family, but she is an extraordinary African woman and her connection to her country, her continent, is her own and it’s something I only stand back in awe of.”
The Oscar-winner and her ex-husband, Brad Pitt, adopted Zahara from an orphanage in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in 2005, when she was 6 months old.
Jolie also adopted son Maddox from Cambodia in 2002 and, also with Pitt, son Pax from Vietnam in 2007. The former couple share three biological children together, Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne.
The actor and activist recently shed light on her parenting approach, explaining that she leads with openness and honesty when discussing adoption with her children.
“With my adopted children, I can’t speak of pregnancy, but I speak with much detail and love about the journey to find them and what it was like to look in their eyes for the first time,” she told Vogue India in June, adding that “adoption and orphanage are positive words in our home.”
“All adopted children come with a beautiful mystery of a world that is meeting yours. When they are from another race and foreign land, that mystery, that gift, is so full,” she continued. “For them, they must never lose touch with where they came from. They have roots that you do not. Honor them. Learn from them. It’s the most amazing journey to share. They are not entering your world, you are entering each other’s worlds.”
Jolie’s rare comment about Zahara came up during a discussion about climate justice and racism with Nakate, who was cropped out of a photo with Greta Thunberg and three other white climate activists earlier this year.
In response to the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality, Jolie, who has spent much of her life advocating for the rights of refugees abroad, said she has shifted her focus to combating systemic racism at home.
“A system that protects me but might not protect my daughter — or any other man, woman or child in our country based on skin color — is intolerable,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in June, adding that the government must enact ”laws and policies that actually address structural racism and impunity.”
Ahead of her 45th birthday, the actor and activist donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to “address the deep structural wrongs in our society.”