Emma Watson (Getty Images)
There’s a good reason why you’ve been missing Emma Watson on the big screen.
The 25-year-old actress explains why she’s decided to take a year off from acting in a new interview with author and activist bell hooks for Paper magazine.
“I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really. My own personal development is one,” Watson says. “My own personal task is to read a book a week, and also to read a book a month as part of my book club. I’m doing a huge amount of reading and study just on my own.”
“I almost thought about going and doing a year of gender studies, then I realized that I was learning so much by being on the ground and just speaking with people and doing my reading,” she continues. “I actually wanted to keep on the path that I’m on. I’m reading a lot this year, and I want to do a lot of listening.”
It’s no secret that advocating for gender equality is a passion of Watson’s. She was appointed to the role of U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, and launched the HeForShe initiative, which advocates for total equality without the use of negative rhetoric and for getting men to join the political and social battle.
“I want to listen to as many different women in the world as I can,” Watson tells hooks. “That’s something that I’ve been doing on my own, through the U.N., the HeForShe campaign, and my work generally.”
However, Watson does admit to being sensitive to how her activism is being perceived.
“When I was talking to my mom about going and doing the gender studies, she was like, ‘It feels like you’d be trying to prove to everyone that you’re smart and trying to prove something by doing that. You’re learning so much on your own at the moment and enjoying it so much. You can prove that you care about it by spending time listening and talking to as many people as you can and keep doing what you’re doing,'” she shares. “I do feel like I have to overcompensate at times.”
She said her involvement in feminist studies has also led to a big positive change within herself: Being much less self-critical.
“I’m on my journey with this and it might change, but I can tell you that what is really liberating and empowering me through being involved in feminism is that, for me, the biggest liberation has been that so much of the self-critiquing is gone,” she says. “So much energy and time — even in subtle ways — I’m 25 now and I’ve certainly come a long way from where I was in my early 20s. Engaging with feminism, there is this kind of bubble now that goes off in my head where these really negative thoughts about myself hit, where I’m able to combat them in a very rational and quick way. I can see it now in a way that’s different.”
“I see so many women struggling with issues of self-esteem,” she adds. “They know and they hear it and they read it in magazines and books all the time that self-love is really important, but it’s really hard to actually do.”