Angelina Jolie welcomes in her 38th birthday on 4 June with shining achievements. This self-proclaimed "punk-teenager" at heart has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and was named Hollywood's highest-paid actress by Forbes in 2009 and 2011. Not only is she one of Hollywood's mega-director-producer-stars, she is also a Special Envoy and formerly a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN refugee committee and has adopted three children. This mega-star's unabated leadership and example of humanity and health is what lands her at the top of this list. Recently Jolie made headlines for her double-mastectomy. Her self-confidence, natural courage to put aside societal pressures, practical decision to take her health into her own hands and desire to bring a subject out to the fore will doubtless set an example.
Angelina Jolie (Reuters Photos)
Mexican-born and raised, but of Lebanese and Spanish descent, Salma Hayek also has a stunning career at age 46. Having started in dramatic Mexican soap operas, known for her role in Teresa, she took tenacious action to "cross-over" into American entertainment. The strong woman decided to highlight another strong woman by producing and starring in Frida, about Mexican painter and icon, Frida Kahlo. Hayek worked against violence and helped battered women and just last week launched the “Chime for Change” Gucci campaign with Frida Giannini and Beyonce.
Salma Hayek (Reuters Photos)
The one-and-only Shakira was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll in Barranquilla Colombia. Her father’s family emigrated from Lebanon, originally to New York, and her mother is of Italian and Spanish descent. When she was a child she was left with a mental impression and desire to help orphans. As the in-the-limelight star, she founded Pies Descalzos charity to help poor children in Colombia and often headlines charity concerts. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and champions global education, starting in her hometown where she gave $6 million to a school.
Shakira (Reuters Photos)
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Oprah, host of the decades-long talk show favoured by millions of women around the world. She founded the Oprah Winfrey Foundation with her own money and, again, uses millions of exclusively her own money to push for children and women both at home and in Africa. Her Angel foundation also encourages voluntarism and donates to charitable organisations around the world.
Oprah (Photos from Reuters and Oprah site)
Think she plays tough women onscreen, like in her role in Thelma & Louis and other roles throughout her career that began win 1969. Well, she’s even a tougher cookie offscreen. Early on, after a divorce, she declared in a televised interview that she "doesn't believe in marriage," and although she's had significant relationships, she simply never re-married. Sarandon also doesn’t sit on the fence on most issues; she takes a side, for instance against the Iraq war and during Nader v Kerry elections. Sarandon has supported homosexual rights and she’s an active UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Some of her favourite organisations include the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Somali Mam’s Association and HOPE, a children’s organisation, “Anything to do with women, children, homelessness,” says Sarandon.
Susan Sarandon (Reuters Photos)
Named one of the biggest charitable celebs in 2012 by DoSomething.org, she had an awesome 2011/2012 and paid it back by donating $4 million to the Country Hall of Fame, and has also donated to organisations that focus on education and encouraging reading.
Taylor Swift (Reuters Photos)