Goodwill Ambassadors are celebrity representatives of the UNHCR, who use their talent and fame to give a voice to refugees. They complement the work of the UNHCR staff around the world with their privileged access to the mass media and other resources. Goodwill Ambassadors communicate the message of respect and compassion for refugees to the general public in a uniquely powerful way; they capture massive public attention through public events, television shows, radio interviews and popular magazine articles. Goodwill Ambassadors also voice their support for refugees in meetings with world leaders, diplomats, teachers, national and community officials, as well as the public at large.
Angelina Jolie's involvement in humanitarian affairs reached its peak in early 2000, when she travelled to Cambodia to film the adventure movie Tomb Raider. During the summer of 2001 she began participating in the field missions with UNHCR through Cambodia (July) and later spent a week with the Afghan refugees in Pakistan (August). On August 27, 2001, Angelina became the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
The world famous soprano Barbara Hendricks is the longest-serving Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. Her outstanding commitment has been recognized and in 2002 she was named Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador - the only UNHCR celebrity ambassador to hold this title.
Having been on a number of field missions, Hendricks is committed to making a real difference for refugees and carries her advocacy to the highest diplomatic and governmental levels. She is particularly concerned about the plight of refugee women. She also takes an active part in various awareness-raising events for the refugee cause.