When many people think of Emma Watson, it's hard not to immediately picture the role she played for some 10 years during the heyday of the Harry Potter films. As young witch Hermione Granger, Watson was engaging, quick-witted and proved that the girl could sometimes even save the day - and the boys, too. She was the one who all-too-frequently helped Ron and Harry get out of one jam or another, and she won plenty of hearts and admiration for taking on the role so handily.
With the money she made from Harry Potter, one might have expected that Watson could have easily just faded back into her own personal life, but she didn't. She continues to act and prove that she is more than just Hermione Granger, but she also sought out opportunities to help young people - young women in particular. Here's why she's such an incredible voice for young women today:
She Doesn't Stop Learning
While some might argue that just about anyone could get an education, Emma Watson went above and beyond what some might expect. She could have very easily gone the private school route in order to avoid endless Hermione or Harry Potter questions, but she didn't. She attended the prestigious Brown University and though she had to take a yearlong break to accommodate the rigors of her work schedule, she still graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature.
Watson didn't stop there. She went on to become certified as a yoga and meditation instructor, and determined to learn how to be "at home with [her]self," she attended a Canadian meditation facility where she wasn't allowed to speak for a week, saying that because her future was never certain she had to figure out how to rely on having a safe space within herself, because a physical "safe space" wouldn't always be there.
She Believes In Building Men Up Too
Some individuals believe that in order to be a feminist, you must tear down the opposite gender. Watson doesn't seem to ascribe to that theory. When asked whether men find it intimidating to date her, given her star status and her iconic role as Hermione Granger, she seemed to brush off the potential to insult the opposite gender. She said:
“I certainly haven’t found that with doing all that I do or being all that I am, that I’ve struggled in my love life. I just think it’s very patronizing towards men. It undermines them.”
In a world that seems clouded by cynicism, it seems refreshing to find a young woman who is unwilling to feed into the notion that one party should be stomped down in order to support another.
Her speech to the United Nations, in which she advocated men and boys being a voice to help build women up, is only further evidence of her desire to help support all genders. In her address to the United Nations, she said:
"I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.
"We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence."
It's clear that Watson wants to see all genders succeed and attain gender equality; in fact, as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, Watson has signed on to support HeforShe, a gender equality campaign.
She Ignores Pigeonholes
It would be all too easy to dismiss Watson as a one-note actress. While she is still most often associated with Hermione Granger - a role she last assumed in 2011 - she has taken a wide range of other roles and is now in a position to show off her other abilities, thanks in part to the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast.
When it was first announced that Watson was taking on the lead female role of Belle, there were a few eyebrows that climbed. Sure, she had the beauty, and she had the ability to address the physicality of the role, but few had heard her actually sing, and since Beauty and the Beast is traditionally a musical, it was hard to envision Watson as a musical actress.
The recent release of a clip of Watson singing "Something There" is sure to quiet the disbelievers:
No Holds Barred
As an actor who has somehow been able to maintain some degree of privacy in spite of continuing to be one of the most highly sought actors of her generation, Emma Watson has found a degree of freedom in becoming who she wants to be. She was 9 when she first took on the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series; now 26, she is an advocate for gender equality, is a university graduate, and is also advocating for people to pick up a book - check out Watson's book club Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads.
She continues to show people of any gender that you don't have to fall into any one category in order to be a successful person; the current generation of millennials are constantly striving for some degree of success, and Emma Watson continues to prove that success can come in many different ways and does not have to rely on your chosen profession.
Beauty and the Beast hits theaters on St. Patrick's Day 2017.
What is your favorite Emma Watson role?