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Five reasons we love Angelina Jolie

By Milena Veselinovic, for CNN
updated 8:25 AM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
Angelina Jolie, pictured here at the 84th Academy Awards, is one of the most celebrated Hollywood actors of all time. Not content with conquering the big screen, her work in recent years with the United Nations has elevated her into a global role model. Angelina Jolie, pictured here at the 84th Academy Awards, is one of the most celebrated Hollywood actors of all time. Not content with conquering the big screen, her work in recent years with the United Nations has elevated her into a global role model.
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Reasons to love Angelina Jolie
Family priorities
Family priorities
Impressive humanitarian work
Not just an observer
Jolie's efforts with the UNHCR
Hollywood's leading lady
Behind the camera
Influential diplomatic personality
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Angelina Jolie has demonstrated courage going public about her mastectomy
  • The actress chose to undergo preventative surgery
  • In recent years she has become increasingly well known for her humanitarian work

Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time -- remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in all areas of business, the arts, sport, culture, science and more.

(CNN) -- After Angelina Jolie made the surprise announcement on Tuesday of having undergone a preventative double mastectomy, the world stood in awe of her brave move and willingness to share her story. Now hailed an inspiration to other women, CNN examines what makes us love the Oscar-winning actress turned humanitarian.

1. Demonstrating courage

Angelina Jolie has never been afraid to express herself, emotionally or artistically. Her decision to publicly announce her preventative surgery so other women could benefit from her experience shows bravery and an overwhelming desire to help others.

Read: Jolie undergoes double mastectomy

Angelina Jolie reveals double mastectomy
CNN archives: Jolie on her mom's cancer
Explaining Jolie's cancer gene
Jolie: 'I've decided to be proactive'

She has gone against her own public image and challenged the perception of a woman's identity by choosing to speak up about her operation. Even more powerful, her global reach may influence millions of women to proactively look after themselves.

2. Humanitarian efforts

It has become Jolie's mission to provide a voice for people whose lives have been ravaged by war and natural disasters.

In short, she has turned her celebrity status into a force for good. She has personally donated more than $5 million to the UNHCR since 2001. In addition to her appointment as UN Special Envoy to Refugees, the actress has set up the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation dedicated to conservation, education and healthcare in Cambodia.

Read: Hollywood reacts to Jolie surgery

3. Transcending stereotypes

Jolie refuses to fit a certain mold and proves that women can be daring and independent, and at the same time caring and altruistic. She is a loving mother of six campaigning tirelessly for women and children across the globe, but she is also an Oscar-winning Hollywood actress.

The actress has redefined what it means to be a humanitarian.

4. Cinematic talent

From her award-winning portrayal of a mentally unstable woman in "Girl, Interrupted" to starring in the "Lara Croft" series, Jolie has steered clear of typecasting and has not shied away from theatrical risk.

Read: Jolie's brave message

In the last decade, she has steered her career in a serious and meaningful direction, starring in films such as "Changeling," as a distraught mother looking for her son, and "A Mighty Heart," playing the role of Mariane Pearl, wife of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl who was, in 2002, abducted and killed in Pakistan.

In 2011, she made her directorial debut with "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a film about the Bosnian War.

5. From celebrity to icon

Jolie has emerged as a woman who is not afraid to make mistakes. She has made the ultimate transition -- from Hollywood starlet to global ambassador and in turn, has become an icon of female empowerment, strength and independence along the way.

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