It's Angelina Jolie's birthday today! At 37, she has more than a handful of blessings to be grateful for. She's an Academy Award-winning actress, a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, a mother of six, and the fiancée of hottie actor Brad Pitt. What more can a woman ask for?

But things weren't always so rosy for this star. Back when Jolie was just six months old, her parents—actress Marcheline Bertrand and award-winning actor Jon Voight--got divorced. Her mother, who studied with a renowned method acting teacher named Lee Strasberg, then taught her how to be aware of her emotions at an early age. She called her mom “the Great Lady” for being the most compassionate person she’s ever known.

Jolie’s younger years may be filled with controversies and misadventures, but she remained tough and continued to brave new experiences, among them becoming a mother. Her colorful life off-screen is also reflected in her choice of movie roles. On her birthday, Female Network looks back at 10 characters she’s given life to over the years. Scroll through the gallery below to see what they are.

(Photo by Philipp von Ostau via Wikimedia Commons)

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