Skip to main content

Angelina Jolie's emotional acceptance speech at Governors Awards

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 6:31 PM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
  • Angelina Jolie and other stars honored at the Academy's 2013 Governors Awards
  • Jolie received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
  • Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury and costume designer Piero Tosi received honorary Oscars

(CNN) -- Angelina Jolie knows that were her mother still alive, she would have been proud.

While receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2013 Governors Awards on Saturday, the Academy Award-winning actress paid an emotional tribute to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who died in 2007 of ovarian cancer. Jolie said during her acceptance speech that her mother was very supportive of her career, driving her daughter to auditions and waiting for her for hours.

She was also instrumental in inspiring her daughter's humanitarian endeavors, Jolie said.

"Above all, she was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I didn't live a life of use to others," Jolie said. " And I didn't know what that meant for a long time. It was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understand my responsibility to others."

Hollywood turned out for the event where Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury and costume designer Piero Tosi also received Oscars honoring their careers.

Jolie told CNN on the red carpet that the honor was "very exciting, but it's also .. it's very humbling to receive anything like this that touches on humanitarian issues when there's so many crises going on around the world."

"I see it as a 'you're on the right track, but there's a lot more to do,' so I'm glad. I feel like I have so much more to learn and so much more I should be doing to help others," she said. "Especially at this time, with so much happening in Syria and the Philippines, and everywhere else, so it's a bittersweet evening."

Jolie spoke of her travels, meeting refugees and the impact it has had on her. Her voice cracking, she said during her speech that "we are all, everyone in this room, so fortunate."

The actress arrived with longtime love, actor Brad Pitt, and their eldest son, 12-year-old Maddox. While not naming Pitt, Jolie thanked "my love" and said "Your support and guidance make everything I do possible." She also had a few words for their son during her speech.

"Mad, I'm not going to cry, I promise," she said. "I'm not going to embarrass you. You and your brothers and sisters are my happiness. There is no greater honor than being your mother."

The Governors Awards is an annual event presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. During the ceremony, specialized awards are given to honor humanitarian work and motion picture achievements not covered by the Academy Awards ceremony.