Emma Watson played Hermione Granger in eight Harry Potter movies between 2001 and 2011, beginning when she was just ten years old. Since then she has combined work as an actor (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Bling Ring, Noah) with modelling for Burberry and Lancôme and reading for a BA in English Literature at Brown University in the US. She is now a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. Advertisement - Continue Reading BelowIn 2014, she was appointed a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate for gender equality. Her speech to the UN in September of that year has been seen over 10 million times on YouTube and in 2015, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Now 25, she continues to star in major films — coming soon: The Circle and Beautyand the Beast — although she has set 2016 aside to concentrate on her activism.
Esquire: Why were you keen to have Tom Hanks involved in the HeForShe campaign and to appear with you on the Esquire cover? Emma Watson: Having him on the cover is making me seriously proud. Not just because of who he is as an actor, but because I respect him as a man. He is one of those rare Hollywood types who are authentic. He is who he says he is. If you look at his career, a lot of his biggest movies — Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle — have been with female directors. And also there's something about the way he talks about issues, whether it be gay rights, Aids, environmental issues, children or the work he does with veterans, he speaks with such a humble grace and a credible voice. He's informed but he has a realness about him which people really respond to and it's why they keep going to see his movies years and years after. Anyway, I'll stop gushing, it's boring. ESQ: But isn't it the truth that it would be impossible for any woman to have the same longevity and success as Tom Hanks in the film industry? He's been in huge movies consistently since Splash in 1984. EW: That's a good question. Maybe things are opening up a bit for actresses, but certainly as far as female directors are concerned, the numbers are so ridiculous. Seven per cent of directors [on the 250 top-grossing films] were women in 2014, and less than 1.3 [per cent] minority women, and only 11 per cent were written by women, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. You hear of studio heads being like, "We can't have a woman directing an action movie," or just sticking to these archaic notions of what a women will and won't be able to do. But it's interesting, talking won't be enough; we really need to see some direct action taken at this stage. Advertisement - Continue Reading BelowESQ: A few high-profile women in Hollywood seem to be speaking out about inequality now. Charlize Theron publicly demanded equal pay with her co-star Chris Hemsworth for the Snow White and the Huntsman prequel. Is this a tipping point? EW: I'm not sure who put out the wage gap [between Theron and Hemsworth on the first film] but it took a hack unfortunately, the Sony hack, for Jennifer [Lawrence] to talk about the extent to which the prejudice was there for her, [her American Hustle co-star] Amy Adams and women generally. We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you're "difficult" or a "diva". But there's a willingness now to be like, "Fine. Call me a 'diva', call me a 'feminazi', call me 'difficult', call me a "First World feminist', call me whatever you want, it's not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens." Because it doesn't just affect me, it affects all the other women who are in this with me, and it affects all the other men who are in this with me, too. Hollywood is just a small piece of a gigantic puzzle but it's in the spotlight. Whether you are a woman on a tea plantation in Kenya, or a stockbroker on Wall Street, or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally. ESQ: A lot of men may have issues with describing themselves as "a feminist". Why is it important this should change? EW: There are misconceptions about the word. The way it is constructed — it's obviously got 'feminine' in the word — immediately pushes men away from it, because they think, "Oh, it's got nothing to do with me." Also, they have this idea that it is about women competing with men, or being against men, or wanting to be men, which is a huge misconception. Women want to be women. We just want to be treated equally. It's not about man hating. [US feminist, author and activist] Bell Hooks says, "Patriarchy has no gender." It's true. ESQ: So, you get that it's tricky? EW: It's really easy to trip up. I do it all the time and I'm engaged with it every day. Even the way that our language is constructed is difficult. I say "guys" to a room of girls all the time. I've even come out with "Man up!" And I consider myself to be someone who is engaged with this topic. The language is so ingrained and unconscious it's easy to make a mistake.