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While her mother passed away in 2007, she was there in spirit as Angelina Jolie accepted an honorary Oscar for her humanitarian work.
Angelina credits her mother with inspiring her to look beyond herself to the needs of others, and the mother of six did not forget this as she accepted the prestigious award.
"I will do as my mother asks and I will do the best I can with this life,' said an emotional Angelina during her acceptance speech at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science's Governors Awards on Saturday night.
She continued: "To be of use. And to stand here today means that I did as she asked. And if she were alive, she would be very proud. So thank you for that."
The 38-year-old explained that her mother Marcheline Bertrant – who died of cancer in 2007, aged 57 – had been the first to support her and draw attention to meaning behind her work.
"My mother loves art. She loved film,' said Angelina. 'She supported any crazy thing I did, but whenever it had meaning, she made a point of telling me,' 'That is what film is for.''
"She never had a career as an artist. She never had the opportunity to express herself beyond her theatre class, but she wanted more than for herself, she wanted for Jamie and I to know what it is to have a life as artists, and she gave us that chance,' said the star, referring to her brother Jamie.
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"She wasn't really the best critic since she never had anything unkind to say, but she did give me love and confidence.
"And above all, she was very clear that nothing would be anything if I didn't live a life of use to others. And I didn't know what that meant for a long time.
"I came into this business young, worried about my own experiences and my own pain. It was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understood my responsibility to others.
"And when I met survivors of war and famine and rape, I learned what life was like for most people in this world.
"And how fortunate I was to have food to eat, a roof over my head, a safe place to live and the joy of having my family safe and healthy. And I realised how sheltered I had been. And I was determined to never be that way again."
Angelina was awarded the prestigious Jean Hersholt Award for humanitarian work for her decade-long stint with the United Nations Refugee Agency. In the last ten years she has made over 40 field missions helping refugees from Syria and Cambodia.
The actress also thanked her family and partner Brad Pitt, who was watching proudly from the audience with their 12-year-old son Maddox.
"Thank you so much. It's quite overwhelming,'"said Angelina as she accepted the statuette from director George Lucas. "Thank you to the members of the Academy for this honor, my dear friends who are here tonight...And most of all, to my family."
"My love, your guidance and support make everything that I do possible. Mad, I'm not going to cry, I promise. I won't embarrass you. You and your brothers and sisters are my happiness. And there is no greater honour in this world than being your mom."