TRAILBLAZER THURSDAY: Emma Watson
by Anna Morais
The Harry Potter movie franchise introduced the world to Emma Watson, and since then she has gained the hearts of millions worldwide.
Emma Watson was born in 1990 in Paris, France but raised in England. From the age of six she dreamt of becoming an actress and began training at a local performing arts school. When casting for the Harry Potter series began, Watson’s theatre teacher recommended she audition. After eight rounds of auditions, she received the role of Hermione Granger. Author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling supported Watson for the role from her first screen test. Though the Philosopher’s Stone was Watson’s debut screen performance, she did not disappoint. Critics stated she stole the show, and as a result she was nominated for five awards and won the Young Artist Award for leading young actress. The Harry Potter franchise opened doors for Watson who has appeared in many films since her film debut in the late 1990s.
Since rising to fame, Emma Watson has gone on to do several notable things. In 2013 she was named GQ Magazine’s Woman of the Year. A year later in 2014, she was named a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. “Being asked to serve as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling,” said Watson. “The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role.” She has traveled to and spent time with girls in Zambia and Bangladesh in an effort to promote girls’ education. This opened up the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for Camfed (The Campaign for Female Education) International. As a known feminist, Watson is also involved with the HeForShe movement. The HeForShe movement aims to encourage men to advocate for women’s rights, rather than traditionally rallying solely women. She is also very active in raising money for impoverished areas and often donates big-ticket items such as signed copies of Harry Potter novels, or designer clothing to charity auctions for the cause.
In May of 2014, Watson received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Brown University in Providence, RI. As a literature lover, Watson began a feminist book club called “My Shared Shelf” in 2016. So that her club could gain popularity she partnered with Books on the Underground, an organization that places free books in odd spots around London underground stations. With the organization’s help, Watson hid 100 copies of Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom around London Underground stations. Each of these 100 copies featured a handwritten note from Watson.
Certain actors will forever be known, or referred to as a character they played at one point in their career. This is not the case for Emma Watson. She is not just Hermione Granger, as she has gone on to successfully play several other notable roles, something that has prevented her from being typecast. Watson is not just an actress but a feminist, an activist, and a trailblazer.