#WCIW: Emma Watson
Harry Potter Heroine. Advocate for Women. Fearless Feminist.
Best known for her career-making role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson was born on April 15, 1990 to Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson, British lawyers living in Paris, France.
Her parents, however, divorced when Emma was just five, forcing her and younger brother Alex back to England with their mother. Interested in the arts from a young age, Emma attended Stagecoach Theatre Arts school at Oxford where she excelled at dancing, singing, and acting. With a natural triple-threat on their hands, her teachers strongly urged her to audition casting opened for the upcoming Harry Potter adaptation.
Watson auditioned eight times for the role despite objections from casting that she was "too pretty" to portray Hermione. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling fought for the nine-year-old from her very first screen test, taken by the youngster’s precociousness and rapid speech. She was simply perfect for the part.
Watson went on to play Hermione Granger in eight films over the course of ten years. She, with her fellow cast-mates, literally grew up before our eyes. Despite the hours spent on film sets, Emma remained, like her character, very studious. She received five hours of lessons each day from the on-set tutor, and received high marks on her high school equivalency exams.
She took two years off to film the final two installments of Harry Potter before attending Brown University, and eventually graduated in 2014 with an English degree. Since then, Watson’s film career has only accelerated, starring in six films, including the Disney blockbuster Beauty and the Beast, which became the highest grossing movie musical of all time.
Acting, however, has not been the only passion in Emma’s life.
She cares deeply about women’s rights and equality, and the state of the world. In 2009 she worked with ethical fashion brand People Tree to design a line of clothing for young people that also provides jobs and alleviates poverty in African nations.
She also became a UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and has used her influence to fight for girls’ education in Africa, while also leading the charge in the HeForShe movement encouraging men to be feminists and promote equality in professional and social environments.
That same year, Watson gave a powerful speech at the UN about women’s rights and equality and feminism. Eloquent and passionate, the speech went viral and inspired thousands of young people around the world to get involved in the fight for equality, and to fearlessly identify as feminists.
“I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive. Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?”
To date, the HeForShe organization has performed over a billion gender equality actions in countries around the world. These actions have been political, monetary, health and education related, and to combat violence against women.
For her wondrous talent, sincere desire to help others, and her ardent activism in order to make that desire a reality, Emma Watson is this week’s #WCIW.
To learn more about HeForShe, visit http://www.heforshe.org/en.