Emma Watson has emerged in recent years as much, much more than the “brightest witch of her time.” The Harry Potter actress has become a fashion icon and articulate spokeswoman for females all over the world in her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Now, she’s speaking out about why she was discouraged from using the word “feminism” at a recent event, and why she decided to use it anyway.
Watson told Porter that if we refrain from using a word just because it might alienate a few people, we will be setting ourselves back when it comes to involving the men of the world.
“I was encouraged not to use the word ‘feminism’ because people felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible. But I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?” Emma said.
To put it in Hermione’s words, “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.”
Speaking of Hermione, Emma Watson says that the character played such a big part of her life that she’s only just now learning how to be comfortable in her own skin and to figure out what she wants to do, as well as who she is.
“I’ve spent more than half of my life pretending to be someone else. While my contemporaries were dying their hair and figuring out who they were, I was figuring out who Hermione was and how best to portray her. Now at 25 for the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I’m comfortable with. I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self,” Watson said.
Emma has given several speeches during her time with the U.N. and even launched her own gender equality campaign, called #HeForShe, which has garnered praise all over the world. Earlier this year, Watson spoke about some of the inequality she’s experienced and witnessed in Hollywood, including the fact that she’s only been directed twice by women, but 17 times by men. And when it comes to discrimination, women can be just as harsh to other women as men can be.
“The men at the top often find it difficult to relate to a lot of the problems women face, and therefore we aren’t taken very seriously. Yet, women are just as guilty of discriminating against women.”
Emma’s social media feeds are full of support for other women and their ideas, including Tavi Gevinson, the teen behind Rookie Yearbook.
Rookieyearbook4 has everything from how to make fake fur sandals to college applications. Made by girls 4 girls. pic.twitter.com/qLxsRkcqdp
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) November 18, 2015
Of course, Watson isn’t just making the world a better place for women; she’s also still an actress at heart, and her next two projects–due out in 2016 and 2017–are labors of love. The Circle will see her working alongside Tom Hanks in an adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel about a tech firm that connects a user’s personal data and the dangers of being so vulnerable in this age of technology. It’s a smart move for Watson, who continues to surprise with her role choices.
“Emma Watson is one of my favorite actors, and her incredible talent, sensitivity and deep intelligence will bring an electric energy to ‘The Circle,’ ” director James Ponsoldt said.
Emma Watson’s most recent project is Colonia.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]