EXCLUSIVE: Angelina Jolie Tells 'Nightline' About Finding Purpose

Feb. 2, 2006 — -- Angelina Jolie dazzled dignitaries and turned the media spotlight on refugees last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

As a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Jolie sees attending the session as part of her advocacy work for the world's most vulnerable children.

Over the last four years, the Oscar-winning actress has traveled to refugee camps and orphanages in dozens of countries, often under dangerous conditions.

She told Cynthia McFadden in an exclusive interview with "Nightline" that she attended the exclusive meeting in Davos each year to ensure that the "elites talk about the camps." The meeting draws a dozen or so heads of state along with CEOs of the world's most powerful companies.

"I went through so many stages for the first year, I just cried," she said. "I went through a period of just being really frustrated and angry and thinking: 'I can fix this; we can all fix this.'"

'Know Your Rights'

Jolie is part of Hollywood's elite. She reportedly is paid more than $10 million a picture. Yet she told McFadden she felt a void in her life.

"I think everybody needs a sense of purpose," she said. "I'd been working on films and doing things to try to work on my own career, my own life, so there was an emptiness in me."

Jolie took her position at UNHCR in 2001. She was determined to use her celebrity to highlight the plight of refugees around the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document she holds dear. She has even posted it on a wall of her home.

She says it's not just a document for dreamers. "Human rights are the law. It's the law, and we haven't been treating it that way," she said. "Education, that's article 26 -- children's education. Everyone has the right to an education, a free education."

Jolie is so passionate about the issue, she has "know your rights" tattooed on her back.

Work on U.S. Shores

While Jolie has traveled to refugee camps all over the world, she has also found a cause closer to home. She has donated a half-million dollars to provide lawyers for children who have come to the United States alone to seek asylum.

"I met this young woman who was locked in a cell, and she was clearly trafficked and she was a very pretty, young thing on her own," Jolie said. "I found out that not only do they not have translators, but they're not given lawyers."

Protecting AIDS Orphans

There are 15 million children orphaned by AIDS. Jolie went to the Capitol last November to celebrate the signing of a bill designed to help AIDS orphans.

Under the new legislation, orphans will receive a full program of community-based care, but the program is yet to be funded. "I'd like to put a lot of heat under the administration to fund it," Jolie said.

However, she acknowledges still being "shy" in Washington. Surprisingly, Jolie, known for doing a number of her own stunts in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," claims Washington intimidates her.

"I'm not shy when it comes to how much I care about something or if I feel that I have a right to talk about it because I've seen it firsthand," she said. "But it's still that little punk kid in me that didn't do so well in school that gets shy."

Dual Roles

Her insights into the painful lives of so many of the world's children have not made her cynical about Hollywood, she says.

"I went to Darfur [Sudan] and Tanzania for two weeks the first trip I made, and it just changed me, wrecked me. I was a different person when I came back," she said. "I talked to my mum for three hours."

"I had to present something at an awards ceremony two weeks later, and I was sure, I thought I'm going to go on, I'm just going to hate this. I'm going to think everybody is false and shallow."

But Jolie says her experience in refugee camps makes her more empathetic to those around her.

"I ended up seeing all the people on the red carpet as: 'God, they must have just spent hours trying to put themselves together and their kids are maybe watching.' I just felt for everybody in the room."

She appreciates the power of her celebrity and acknowledges that it gives her more influence in her advocacy work.

"The part of me that would like to just become a field officer tomorrow knows that I can do more good with one foot on one side, and one foot on the other."

The Joys of Motherhood

Jolie is pregnant and has two adopted children -- Maddox, 4, and Zahara, 1. She said she would like to have "lots of babies."

"I'd love to adopt just a bunch more kids, have a few, and, just be traveling, be home, or, you know, not working the next few months," she said. "I haven't worked much this year, and it's been really nice."