The Angelina Jolie Phenomenon

“I always play women I would date” –Angelina Jolie, Talk Magazine, June 2000

In January of 2002, Angelina Jolie tied with Britney Spears for second place on’s poll of the Sexiest Stars 2002, and in the same month claimed the third spot on E! Online’s list of the “25 Sexiest Women in Entertainment.”

In June of 2001, Harlequin readers voted Jolie the “2nd hottest female celebrity;” this May, 53% of the readers of Parents Magazine voted Angelina Jolie the celebrity mom they’d mostly like to hang out with (Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton have adopted one child and are in the process of adopting another).

In the July 2002 issue of Cosmo Magazine, Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar listed Angelina Jolie when asked whom she thought was the “hottest actress,” explaining “she is very sexy. It sounds like an obvious answer, but there is something about her. She’s hot, I’m sorry. And she’s an incredible actress.”

When asked in the August 2003 issue of Premiere magazine for whom she’d “switch teams,” Alyson Hannigan of Buffy also listed Angelina Jolie (and Jodie Foster).

Janet Jackson also cited Angelina Jolie as the sexiest woman alive in a July, 2001 interview. “I think Angelina Jolie is another who’s got something about her. I don’t know if it’s her attitude or her ass, but for me that’s the most beautiful part of the body.”

Even Rosie O’Donnell jumped on the Jolie bandwagon in her book, Find Me, writing “there’s something [Angelina Jolie] represents to me. She represents some sort of truth and beauty.”

Straight Men. Straight Women. Bisexual Women and Lesbians. Moms and Dads. Seems everyone but gay men are swooning for Angelina. That straight men are drawn to her is no big surprise–but that so many women (lesbian, bi and straight) are attracted to Jolie is not as predictable. In fact, it is a development quite unlike anything we’ve seen in American culture before. Not because so many women are attracted to Jolie, but because so many of them have expressed this attraction publicly.

Most people would agree that Angelina Jolie is attractive. But there are many beautiful women in Hollywood, and few generate the same kind of overwhelming interest across genders and sexual orientations that she does; clearly something else is going on here.