Jolie appeared in the media from an early age due to her famous father Jon Voight. At 7 she had a small part in Lookin’ to Get Out, a movie co-written by and starring her father, and in 1986 and 1988 she attended the Academy Awards as a teenager with him. However, when she started her acting career, Jolie decided not to use “Voight” as a stage name, because she wished to establish her own identity as an actress. Jolie was never shy about controversy and integrated her teenage “wild girl” image into her public persona in the first years of her career. During her acceptance speech at the 2000 Academy Awards, Jolie declared “I’m so in love with my brother right now” which, combined with her affectionate behavior towards him that night, sparked rumors in the tabloid media of an incestuous relationship with her brother James Haven. She has denied those rumors and said while appearing on Inside the Actors Studio “the world is a lot sicker than I thought”. Jolie and Haven later explained in interviews that after their parents’ divorce they relied on one another and because of that they hold on to each other as a means of emotional support.
Jolie is noted as “the one A-list celebrity without a publicist”, and she quickly became a tabloid’s favorite, since she presented herself as very outspoken in interviews, once claiming to be “most likely to sleep with a female fan”. Her love life, especially her interest in sadomasochism, has often been featured in the media. In 2004 she stated in Allure, “S&M sex can be misinterpreted as violence. It’s really about trust. I like to push boundaries, both emotional and sexual, with another person. That’s when I’ve felt the sexiest. I’ve been in both submissive and dominant roles because I want more.” As one of her most distinctive physical features, Jolie’s lips have attracted notable media attention. Her lips were mentioned among the “world’s sexiest things” in a 2006 FHM poll. She also created headlines with her much publicized marriage to Billy Bob Thornton and her subsequent change into an advocate for global humanitarian problems. As she took on the role of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador she started to use her celebrity to highlight humanitarian causes worldwide, e.g. promoting World Refugee Day 2006 in a two hour CNN interview with Anderson Cooper which attracting more than double the audience of his typical newscast. Jolie has been taking flight lessons since 2004 and she has a student pilot and private pilot (UK based) license. The media speculated that Jolie is a Buddhist, but she said that she teaches Buddhism to her son Maddox because she considers it part of his culture. Jolie has not stated definitively whether or not she believes in God. When asked in an interview with The Onion A.V. Club in 2000 if there was a God, she said, “For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn’t need to be a God for me.”
Starting in 2005, her relationship with Brad Pitt became one of the most reported celebrity stories worldwide. After Jolie confirmed her pregnancy in early 2006, the unprecedented media hype surrounding them “reached the point of insanity” as Reuters described it in their story “The Brangelina fever”; among others, there were several false wedding rumors including an alleged imminent wedding in Laglio, Italy that was even further ignited by the local mayor and was picked up by many noted news services like the Associated Press and the BBC. Trying to avoid the media attention, the couple went to Namibia for the birth of “the most anticipated baby since Jesus Christ”, as it has been described.
Today, Jolie is one of the best known celebrities around the world. According to the Q Score survey by Marketing Evaluations Inc., in 2000, subsequent to her Oscar win, 31% of respondents in the United States said Jolie was familiar to them, by 2006 she was familiar to 81% of Americans. In a 2006 global industry survey by ACNielsen in 42 international markets Jolie, together with Brad Pitt, was found to be the favorite celebrity endorser for brands and products worldwide. Also in 2006, Jolie was among the Time 100, a list of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time, she was featured on the cover of Forbes “The Celebrity 100″ edition, ranking at No. 35, and she was described as the world’s most beautiful woman in the “100 Most Beautiful” issue of People. In February 2007, she was voted the greatest sex symbol of all time in the British Channel 4 television show The 100 Greatest Sex Symbols.