It has always been an international upbringing for Angelina Jolie‘s famous kids.
In addition to their Oscar-winning parents’ globetrotting careers, Jolie and Brad Pitt‘s six children have also experienced the world through each other’s eyes given their various backgrounds. In a new interview with Justin Webb of BBC Radio 4 Today, Jolie reflected on the way her kids have faced their differences together.
“I think my children have learned the most about these issues simply from each other, from experiencing each other. They are from different backgrounds, they don’t deny the difference—they celebrate the difference,” Jolie said.
Considering the former couple adopted three of their children internationally—13-year-old Zahara from Ethiopia, 15-year-old Pax from Vietnam and 17-year-old Maddox from Cambodia—the family made every effort to assimilate to their kids’ individual cultures. “I’ve had to learn from them,” the proud mom acknowledged. “We go to their countries, spend time in their countries, but also they’re American, they’re American Ethiopian, they’re American Cambodian, so they have their countries and that’s a piece of who they are.”
As siblings, they also took an interest in each other’s cultures. “Shiloh, for example, is the one that’s learning Mad’s country’s language, and Vivienne wants to live in Zahara’s country. So just because they’re from a place doesn’t mean that that’s everything that defines them,” the star noted.
During the interview, Jolie recalled Shiloh and Zahara’s reactions when she gave them baby dolls with different skin tones. “I got Zizi a little black doll and I got Shi a little white doll, and they switched dolls,” she remembered. “And I had that immediate reaction of one of them not liking the way they are and wanting the other color…and you know I thought maybe something was…and then I realized that’s just who they see every day. They see the other, so to them family wasn’t the one that looked like them, it was the other.”
With many of her children now in their teenage years, Jolie acknowledged she has less control over what they learn about the world.
“I think like most parents we try our best to insert good stuff and we can’t control everything that they’re exposed to,” the actress said. “There are certain realities to teenagers, and also you know our generation doesn’t understand half of what they’re doing with their tech, so they can get around us pretty easy.”
Still, she confirmed none of them are on Facebook and, as children of a famous family, have seen how public information can be inaccurate.
“I mean here’s the truth, is that my children have seen things about themselves, even from what’s considered serious news people, that are inaccurate,” Jolie said. “So my children have a very odd sense of who’s telling the truth and what the truth really is and what they actually believe or trust.”
Ultimately, Jolie encourages her kids to be their own people, even if that means some rebellion.
“They are, all have a good rebellious streak that is wonderful and curious, and I don’t want them to be perfectly behaved little people that just say what’s absolutely appropriate because I say so or because they think that it’s…they have to find themselves.”