Inspiring Women

Emma Watson on Feminism and Fame

Emma Watson talks to us about growing up in the limelight and her views on feminism.


Imagine for a moment that you grew up in the limelight, under a microscope of scrutiny. As a child, you auditioned for acting roles. You thought it was fun. Your fame started to build as you started doing blockbuster films at the tender age of nine. You’ve been followed by paparazzi ever since. In fact, you’ve never known what it feels like to be anonymous. Your life seems set, and yet you continue to push yourself. To keep working. Studying. Trying to live a “normal” life.

Emma Watson on Feminism and Fame

This hypothetical life might sound glamorous to some, but this is the actual life that actress Emma Watson is living. And yet she is a far cry from your typical celebrity actress. In fact, this English girl’s most important role yet just might be her real-life roles of United Nation’s Goodwill Ambassador, and founder of HeforShe, a campaign to enlist men as feminists.

In person, Emma is as down-to-earth and genuine as it gets. If you’re not too distracted by her outer beauty, it’s easy to see her inner beauty and passion shine through when she talks about the issues that really matter to her.

Urbanette Magazine: What inspired the HeforShe campaign?

Emma Watson: I think our society, in general, devalues the “she” and it’s time we do something about it.

Urbanette: What is HeforShe all about?

Emma: I launched a campaign at the United Nations called HeforShe, which is about men coming in support of women and women supporting men to achieve gender equality.

Urbanette: What is gender equality and feminism to you?

Emma: Gender equality has been predominantly a women’s movement for women. But I think the impact of gender inequality and how it’s been affecting men hasn’t really been addressed. Feminism is not synonymous to man hating. Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

Urbanette: Why is it important to involve males in feminism?

Emma: To end gender inequality, everyone should be involved, and that includes the males. We want to galvanize as many males as we can to become advocates for change.

Urbanette: Why focus on gender inequality?

Emma: Inequality is hindering our progress. It causes discrimination and violence, pain and fear. I just wanted to desensitize people to the issue and make them feel that they can be part of the solution and that they can make a difference.

Emma Watson on Feminism and Fame

Urbanette: You are someone that women and people from all walks of life can look up to. But who do you look up to? Any inspirations?

Emma: Malala is my absolute hero. In her film she got to show what made her a hero and how extraordinary she was, but most importantly that anyone can encourage change.

Urbanette: You are also an inspiration to a lot of young women out there, especially when it comes to fashion. You’ve become one of the biggest fashion icons out there. How do you react to this?

Emma: It’s a huge part of my job. You know, showing up for appearances, to come dressed up, for work. It’s a big part of what I do and I try to do it well. I enjoy it and have loved fashion from a very young age. It’s really fun and expressive. I also like to work with up-and-coming designers and more established ones.

Urbanette: Being a celebrity, people watch everything single thing that you do. And a couple of years back, you cut your hair so short that it actually started a short hair trend. And now you’ve grown it long again.

Emma: I just wanted a change. And it’s really liberating to cut your hair short. You can wash your head in the sink, which is such a plus.

Emma Watson on Feminism and Fame

Urbanette: You played the role of Hermione Granger for at least ten of your formative years growing up. Now that it’s over (Harry Potter), what do you think of her character?

Emma: I feel like she’s very important not just because that she’s smart, but because she’s told girls that it’s okay to be bossy. And that it’s okay to be nerdy.

Urbanette: Everyone is amazed at how you’ve managed to do a bunch of films and still get a college degree. What inspired you to pursue academic success?

Emma: I started working in this industry when I was 9 years old. I think that there’s always time for me to work, I hope. But this is the time of my life when I need to really study and learn more about myself and the world around me. This was a really important thing to do and I’m really, really glad that I made the time for it. I’m an English literature major, by the way.

Emma Watson on Feminism and Fame

Urbanette: You mentioned that you grew up in the movie industry and started at a very young age. And we know this industry is not an ideal environment to grow up in, especially if you start dealing with showbiz gossip. How did you cope up with this?

Emma: It’s kind of like a great thing. As Audrey Hepburn puts it, “People can write whatever they want about me, as long as it’s not true.” And I think that you just have to have that sort of attitude towards it. Oh there is so much out there that isn’t correct and I kind of know that people do take what they read with a pinch of salt and it’s all part of this acting thing.

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 43 Comments

  1. Avatar of Paakhi Bhatnagar

    This was such a wonderful read! I love Emma Watson and everything she stands for.
    I would love it if Urbanette could interview Cecile Richards next.

  2. Avatar of Genevieve Scarano

    Emma Watson is a great role model for millennials. She is classy, beautiful and genuinely cares about humanity. Young women definitely could benefit from more celebrities like her. Great interview 🙂

  3. Avatar of Angela Sum

    I like this heforshe campaign. There’s still definitely a lot of sexism in the work place. It’s hard, for example, in an investment bank, for a woman to be heard, she often has to be extra assertive–from which she’d often be labelled ‘bitch’. In banking and technology, I don’t know how many times guys would refuse to listen to advice or suggestions from me, and will instead seek to discuss with male peers. Luckily I have had very good managers that appreciate the value I provide and see me for my skills and abilities. They are definitely for the ‘heforshe’!

  4. Avatar of Kim Hartford

    Kim Hartford

    I completely support what this girl has done. Nothing but good this happening on Watson side of things. 🙂

  5. Avatar of Sasha Rosswell

    Sasha Rosswell

    Such a wonderful woman! I hope she is able to inspire and lead thousands of girls and young women towards pursuing education, equality and independence.

  6. Avatar of Kimberly Thompson

    Kimberly Thompson

    “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” – Hermione Granger

  7. Avatar of Sibel Jenkinson

    Sibel Jenkinson

    Germaine Greer is a feminist. Emma Watson is a feminist. Everybody is a feminist today, as they should be! Who is opposed to equality between the sexes?

  8. Avatar of Delilah Peyton

    Delilah Peyton

    That veil Malala wears shows she doesn’t understand feminism, and if Emma finds her inspirational then she doesn’t the first thing about feminism.

    • Avatar of Jurnee Blackmore

      Jurnee Blackmore

      Ummm….Malala Yousafzai was willing to risk her life for womens’ rights. I think taking a bullet through her head said much more than the veil she wears over her face. She’s also the youngest person EVER to have one a Nobel Peace prize. So, what then, makes a feminist? Does she have to wear the same clothes as you? Does she have to follow the same religion as you? I think that staying true to herself while still doing whatever she can to help girls in less than ideal situations makes her a perfect example of feminism. Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t understand what that means.

  9. Avatar of Andrea Mitchell

    Andrea Mitchell

    Emma is an iconic and inspirational young woman! 🙂

  10. Avatar of Anna Kaplan

    Anna Kaplan

    Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson are both beautiful, strong, intelligent women who want to empower and strengthen others. I am a great admirer of both of them, and glad they both claim the word feminist.

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