From Aspirations of Funeral Directing to Directing Films

by M-Gillies

Angelina Jolie admits she thinks about death a lot but believes it’s because she loves life more than some people.

Each year, high school graduates are left at a crossroads of deciding whether to pursue post-secondary education or dive headfirst into a career. While these can range from jobs like police officer, doctor, or mechanic, perhaps the most non-traditional of all occupations is that of the modern day funeral director and embalmer.

It’s a profession that promises never to disappear as long as mortality rates remain steady and the magical elixir known as immortality is never found. However, most people don’t pursue such a career without having grown up in the lineage of a family-run funeral home. Some do, but it leaves many with a perplexed look and a question of why that job?

For Angelina Jolie, Academy Award Winner, appointed Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and Switzerland, superstar celebrity, wife of Brad Pitt and mother of six children, being a funeral director was a backup career she flirted with long before her rise to fame.

Daughter to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie was no stranger to the world of celebrity spotlight and while she was introduced to modelling and acting at a young age, the actress explained that her interests in becoming a funeral director stem early on when she was young girl.

“It sounds like this very strange, eccentric, dark thing to do but in fact I lost my grandfather and I was very upset with his funeral,” Jolie said. “So we discussed that maybe there are ways where this whole idea of how somebody passes and how a family deals with this passing and what death is, should be addressed in a different way. If this acting thing didn’t work out that was going to be my path.”

Known early on in her career for her eccentric and often self-destructive personality, Jolie’s public image quickly changed after the adoption of her first son Maddox in 2002. Soon after she began her cause of overseeing humanitarian work worldwide.

Though she may not have become a funeral director, in 2011 Jolie wrote and directed her first feature film, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s called In the Land of Blood and Honey. Since the film’s release, critical reception has been generally favorable.

While Jolie adapted a more maternal presence inside and outside of Hollywood, with much of her time focused between her humanitarian efforts and raising her children, she is fully aware of the vulnerability of life and the importance of enjoying each and every day.

“There’s something about death that is comforting,” Jolie said. “The thought you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now.”

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