In a new essay for Elle, Angelina Jolie praises her children and shares her learnings from decades working as an international humanitarian while writing about how independent women have been branded as "wicked" and "witches" throughout history.
"Women could be accused of witchcraft for having an independent sex life, for speaking their mind on politics or religion, or for dressing differently," she wrote. "Had I lived in earlier times, I could have been burnt at the stake many times over for simply being myself."
Jolie's essay, and its themes of powerful women, nods to her forthcoming movie, "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," in which she will reprise her witchy warrior role when the Disney picture hits theaters October 18.
The mother of six shared how she imparts that knowledge onto her daughters, 14-year-old Zahara, 13-year-old Shiloh and 11-year-old Vivienne.
"I often tell my daughters that the most important thing they can do is to develop their minds. You can always put on a pretty dress, but it doesn’t matter what you wear on the outside if your mind isn’t strong. There is nothing more attractive – you might even say enchanting – than a woman with an independent will and her own opinions."
And as for her sons – Maddox, who turns 18 today, as well as 15-year-old Pax and 11-year-old Knox – she wrote that she "could not be prouder of my sons for the men they are becoming, the way they respect their sisters and are respected by them."
In the sequel to 2014 "Maleficent," a retelling of the classic "Sleeping Beauty" story, Jolie returns as the titular mistress of darkness, whose relationship with her surrogate daughter, Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) – and her position of power in her kingdom – is threatened by Aurora's new mother-in-law to-be, Michelle Pfeiffer's Queen Ingrith.
"What's really moving to me is that they want to see me strong," she said. "It's less to see me in a film, but they're just happy I will be strong and having fun."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Angelina Jolie: 'I could have been burnt at the stake' for my beliefs