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It doesn’t matter if you are a Disney superfan, a Potterhead or an indie film enthusiast – chances are that you have heard of Emma Watson. Watson is best known for her roles as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films and, recently, as Belle in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, but her credits as an actor are just the tip of the iceberg.
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Watson is a humanitarian, a philanthropist and a vehement activist. Between 2011 and 2014, Watson simultaneously completed college while still working as an actor. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Watson spent time in Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her advocacy for improved girls’ education. In every aspect of her life, Watson steps up to the challenge of using her influence to help those who have no voice of their own.
In 2014, United Nations Women named Watson a Goodwill Ambassador and announced that she would help launch their feminist movement HeForShe. HeForShe invites men around the world to join in the conversation about feminism and to help work towards true equality. To launch the campaign, she gave an admittedly nervous yet inspiring speech, which you can watch here.
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“How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?” Watson said in her speech. “Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”
As time goes on and new movements blossom, Watson continues to be a warrior for equality. Her Instagram feed is a billboard for the Time’s Up movement, which she helped bring to the United Kingdom. She is an active voice in the fight to end sexual abuse and harassment in every industry.
“United across industries and communities, we believe all women and people deserve to live with safety and dignity,” Watson said in one of her captions. “#TIMESUP on the imbalance of power.”
Rather than bring a date to the 2018 Golden Globes, Watson chose Marai Larasi as her plus-one. Larasi runs a black and ethnic minority women’s organization in the U.K. called Imkaan, which aims to prevent and respond to violence against marginalized European girls and women.
Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times
“There is a wall of silence against women and violence, and every time a woman speaks out it breaks a crack in that wall,” said Larasi, as quoted on Watson’s Twitter.
Larasi is not the only women’s advocate that Watson has promoted using her own influence. As part of her work with U.N. Women, Watson reads a lot of feminist literature, which she began sharing with her followers. She started a feminist GoodReads book club called Our Shared Shelf, where she shares books on equality and hosts discussions on them once a month.
Photo: Twitter @EmmaWatson
In true Hermione Granger fashion, Watson has been known to leave her favorite books around major cities in her spare time to help encourage reading. In fact, while I studied abroad in France this past summer, Watson partnered with The Book Fairies and hid copies of The Handmaid’s Tale around Paris, inviting her Twitter followers to find them. Though I never found a copy, there was a secret thrill in knowing someone else must have.
Watson is the feminist icon that the world needs, leading the way with poise and grace combined with an unapologetic passion. Not only does she speak her mind, but she invites the rest of the world to join her.