Emma Watson’s Year of Feminist Activism

Reprinted with permission from Women and Hollywood

Emma Watson is taking a hiatus from acting to concentrate on her feminist activism. Watson famously enrolled as an undergraduate student at Brown University in 2009 despite her budding film career. The Harry Potter star graduated with an English literature degree in 2014, but she remains committed to continuing her education—just not in the classroom, for the time being.

Watson spoke with bell hooks, author of Feminism Is For Everybody, in a new feature for Paper magazine and revealed that she’s taking a year away from acting to focus on her work as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, as well as her own personal development.

The British actress considered returning to academia, this time in a gender studies program, before coming to the conclusion that she was “learning so much more by being on the ground and just speaking with people and doing [her] reading.” She explained, “That way I was learning so much on my own. I actually wanted to keep on the path that I’m on. I’m reading a lot this year, and I want to do a lot of listening.”

“You’re kind of homeschooling yourself,” observed hooks. Watson described this experience as “amazing,” and emphasized, “I want to listen to as many different women in the world as I can. That’s something that I’ve been doing on my own, through the U.N., the HeForShe campaign and my work generally.”

Watson is especially enthusiastic about an upcoming HeForShe project which will see 10 CEOs releasing the composition of their companies to the media, disclosing how many CEOs are male and female, and drawing attention to the wage gap. Watson detailed, “We’ll be making all of these statements completely transparent, which is huge. It’s never been done before. So big companies like Vodafone, Unilever and Tupperware will be standing up to the media and really acknowledging the issues within their own companies and talking about how they are planning to address these issues as HeForShe IMPACT champions. I’m very interested and excited to see how that works out.”

The interview touches on Watson’s introduction to hooks’ writings, the importance of making feminism accessible to everyone and the legacy of Watson’s most famous role, brilliant bookworm Hermione Granger.

You can catch Watson in Colonia, a thriller set in Chile, on April 15.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kingsley Huang licensed under Creative Commons 2.0