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Angelina Jolie Opens Up to PEOPLE About Her 'Difficult' Year: 'I Am a Little Bit Stronger'

People logo People 9/13/2017 Melody Chiu

(Video provided by Splash News)

Much has changed over the last year in Angelina Jolie‘s life, but one thing has remained constant — her dedication to her children.

After filing for divorce from Brad Pitt on September 19, 2016, Jolie retreated from the spotlight to focus on her family as they work to heal from the traumatic split.

“I have had my ups and downs. I guess I am a little bit stronger,” the actress, director and philanthropist tells PEOPLE exclusively in an interview for the magazine’s new cover story. “We all have our difficult times, but as a mother you also have a responsibility first and foremost towards the kids. They are going through their formative years and everything else comes second to that.” © Provided by TIME Inc.

With her children — Maddox, 16, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 11, Vivienne and Knox, 9 — by her side, the superstar, 42, is back at work promoting First They Killed My Father, a movie she directed for Netflix (debuting Sept. 15) based on her friend Loung Ung’s memoir about surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.

© Alexei† Hay/Netflix

Jolie confirmed she plans on taking on more acting roles in the future, including Maleficent 2, but says her priority remains her children and their well-being.

“Everything will be around the children,” she says. “I haven’t worked for over a year now because they needed me home. Everything was just stopped. I’m really sitting and talking with them because everything affects them. Every location, every type of project, I’m going to have to adjust it to however much they can handle.”

Jolie, her kids, author Loung Ung and the young stars of First They Killed My Father at the movie’s Toronto premiere on Sept. 11. © George Pimentel/WireImage
Jolie, her kids, author Loung Ung and the young stars of First They Killed My Father at the movie’s Toronto premiere on Sept. 11.

In the interview, an emotional Jolie also talks about how she misses her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who died of cancer 10 years ago, more than ever —and says her own health is good “so far” after her preventative surgeries to lessen the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

She’s very proud that Maddox and Pax got involved behind the scenes on First They Killed My Father. The movie grew from her longtime love for Cambodia, where she adopted Maddox in 2002 and where she has done humanitarian work for 14 years, establishing a foundation in Maddox’s name that helps local communities with education, health and more. “I wanted Maddox to see how extraordinary his country is,” she says of the movie.

Though they are still healing from the last year, the star says her family is out of “lockdown” and ready for new adventures.

“I think they’re itching to get out in the world again,” says Jolie. “We’ve all been a bit in lockdown and going through some things. I think it would be good to get out there and play together.”

The Sweetest Photos of Angelina Jolie & Her Kids This Week, from Toronto to Telluride: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie posing for a photo: Jolie's daughters were once again her guests of honor, this time for the Feb. 3 Annie Awards — which celebrated the best animated films of the year — in Los Angeles. Jolie was on hand to celebrate the film The Breadwinner, an animated movie about a headstrong young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family. The film, which Jolie co-produced, won the award for best animated feature-independent, and is up for an Oscar at next month's ceremony. The Sweetest Photos of Angelina Jolie & Her Kids on the Red Carpet, from L.A. to New York and Beyond



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