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Emma Watson: From Wands to Women’s Rights

Edited by: Tanmaya Ramprasad

With the recent 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter movie premier and news of the iconic trio reuniting for a Return to Hogwarts special on every fan’s mind, it’s only appropriate to reflect on how far many of the actors have come since playing their Wizarding World characters. I know that I, along with many others, can distinctively remember looking up to Hermione as a young girl, admiring her wits and courage. She was also a role model for female empowerment to me, and in many ways is a reflection of the woman I am still trying to become today. However, as I began to grow up, I noticed that Emma Watson, the brilliant actress behind the role of Hermione, embodied many of the same characteristics as the one she iconically played on screen. From that moment on, I became a huge fan of Emma’s, not only as an actress of many beloved roles (The Perks of Being a Wallflower will STAY one of my favourite films), but also as an activist for women’s rights.

A notable time in Emma’s biographical journey was in 2014, which was the year she both graduated from Brown University with a degree in English and was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. In this globally recognized and honoured position, she advocated for the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign in promoting gender equality. As a part of her humanitarian efforts, Emma has also worked to bring about her strong belief in girls’ education, working out of Bangladesh and Zambia to try and progress these efforts. Similarly, Emma became an ambassador for Camfed International because of this belief, which is a movement to educate girls in rural Africa. In 2019, Emma joined the Gender Equality Council alongside many Nobel Peace Laureates, among similar progressive projects she has joined in recent years.

Inspired by her love of fashion, Emma also actively and passionately promotes fair trade and organic clothing, and partners with sustainable brands such as People Tree. Additionally, she had launched an Instagram account called “the_press_tour”, where she both promoted and modelled sustainable brands, as well as launching her own organic clothing line.

“I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian issues surrounding fast fashion. We want to make good choices, but there aren’t many options out there.”

Emma Watson for The Times U.K. 2011

Among her other impressive accomplishments, such as appearing on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2015, gracing the cover of Elle U.K. as “The Fresh Face of Feminism” in 2014, and being the face of global brands like Lancôme and Burberry, she also takes the time to be consciously selective in the acting roles she takes. Since starring in the Harry Potter franchise, Emma has recently starred in the film adaptation of Little Women, an icon piece of feminist literature, and taken on the role of Belle in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, who can be regarded as one of the more empowering, independent princesses.

“[Feminism]’s not about us convincing you that gender equality is worth engaging in only because there might be something in it for you, or in it for your sister or your mother. The question is, what’s in it for humans?”

Emma Watson for Esquire U.K 2016

Emma Watson, although widely famous for her iconic roles on the big screen, is more than her cinematic portrayals, with environmental and feminist activism being a large part of her life. She has aided in the effort for advancing gender inequality while making audiences laugh, cry, and feel empowered at the same time, which is pretty impressive even by today’s standards. Today, she continues to travel the world giving lectures and speeches, working with progressive global brands, charities, movements, foundations, and projects, and actively providing resources and informed information on her social media platforms. Although I know her from my childhood in the Harry Potter movies, I will continue to remember her as a strong, female role model of mine who continues fighting on behalf of others, and trying to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place.

Taylor Stolfi

U Toronto '23

Taylor Stolfi is a part-time writer with Her Campus. She is in her third year at the University of Toronto for Criminology, Sociology, and English, pursuing a future career in law. In her free time she enjoys reading, biking, finishing a good puzzle, and spending money she doesn’t have on mugs and candles.
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