Angelina Jolie Attends Calabash Literary Festival, Like A Regular Person

The fact that when American actress Angelina Jolie arrived at the Calabash Literary Festival yesterday, Jamaicans in attendance did not even bat an eyelid, has been a talking point since a video clip of the superstar walking into the Treasure Beach venue surfaced online.

In the short video clip, shared by The Gleaner yesterday  the Laura Croft: Tomb Raider star is seen walking into the venue, at Jakes, without fanfare, an occurrence which seemed to delight many Jamaicans on Twitter, including a former Minister of Tourism.

American actress Angelina Jolie was spotted Saturday at the 15th Calabash International Literary Festival in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth. The three-day event started Friday. The festival was last held in 2018. The ones for 2020 and 2022 were cancelled because of COVID-19.

— Jamaica Gleaner (@JamaicaGleaner) May 27, 2023

Another photo, which has been circulating online, is that of Jolie posing with Dub poet Mutabaruka at what was the 15th staging of the event. 

In just two other photos, Jolie was also captured walking around like everyone else unhindered, at the three-day, free-entry event which started on Friday.  Another short video clip is also circulating of her sitting in the audience and applauding, with no photographers aiming at her, and no cameras flashing in her face, as would have been the case in her home country.

While the photo with Mutabaruka has generated much applause from Jamaicans, it was the sentiments of former Minister of Tourism Assamba who marvelled at how Jolie was treated like a ‘normal human being’, and the fact that Jamaicans do not impose themselves on celebrities, which was of particular interest on Twitter.

“I love how Jamaicans just cool around celebrities! No one rushing her,” Assamba stated in response to the Gleaner video clip.

Assamba was supported by The Irie Writer, who pointed out that Jamaicans were not ones to genuflect to stars.

“A real bigger-than-life star and no one is fainting and yelling her name. No paparazzi. How underwhelming. We Jamaicans too braggadacious enuh. No body no better dan we,” she noted.  

“Anyway we just shy Ms Jolie. We just prefer to stare, point & brag afterwards, ‘she pass dis close to me’” she quipped.

When one commenter replied: “Jamaicans rush celebs all the time though,” Assamba noted in response: “Not as much as elsewhere though!”

“Most prolly never knew who she was! Poor me woulda step pass her with excuse me please! Just another face on the crowd!” the11thstone said.

SapphireSky also pointed to other instances in Kingston where foreign celebrities realised Jamaicans were not overly impressed with stars like elsewhere.

“When celebrities stayed at Wyndham and came to Gymkhana, they would come with their security. When they saw that gym members weren’t rushing them, they felt free to come on their own after that,” she said, while Onthewrongboat joked: “We go out of our way to make people not feel like celebrities.”…

There were additional comments justifying why Jolie was not hailed and venerated at the event.

“FYI. We are the biggest celebrities,” one woman stated, while another added: “Cause we no frighten fi people”.

The Calabash International Literary Festival was last held in 2018.  It had been cancelled twice in 2020 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival was founded in 2001 by novelist Colin Channer, poet Kwame Dawes and film producer Justine Henzell, the daughter of Perry Henzell producer of the film The Harder They Come, which starred Jimmy Cliff.

The aim of the festival was to create a world-class literary festival with roots in Jamaica which branched out to the world.

The three-day festival of readings and music with other forms of storytelling folded in the mix.   The events are free and open to the public, and, according to the organisers, “passion is the only price of entry, but voluntary contributions are welcomed”.

The festival, which is produced by the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust, also produces publishing seminars and writing workshops. It is affiliated with the Friends of the Calabash International Literary Festival, a registered charity in the United States.

According to the Trust, its mission is to “transform the literary arts in the Caribbean by being the region’s best-managed producer of workshops, seminars and performances”, and among other things, “creating a community of supporters in the media, government, business, the performing arts, philanthropic organizations and publishing, and by becoming the festival of choice for the world’s most gifted authors”.

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