Emma Watson: ‘Critics of my feminism have toughened me up’

Emma Watson’s public stance on feminism has taught her to be more resilient in the face of her critics.

After completing university, the Harry Potter actress began campaigning for feminist causes, taking up a role at the United Nations promoting gender equality.

Since then she has backed a number of feminist campaigns, most recently attending the Women’s March on Washington last month (Jan17) to protest against new U.S. President Donald Trump’s allegedly sexist actions and policies.

However she says she has had to toughen up to cope with a level of criticism caused by her publicly talking about her belief in feminism.

“It really toughened me up,” she told Elle U.K. “There is a level of criticism that comes with being an actress and a public figure, which I expect, but once you take a stance on something like feminism, that’s a completely different ball game.”

In 2015 online trolls threatened to leak intimate photographs of her on to a specially created website in response to her feminist stance, but the star faced down the pranksters, revealing that she knew their threats were empty ones.

Asked whether she is planning to write a book on feminism, Emma explains that she feels she has more to learn before putting pen to paper.

“I need to see and do a bit more first,” the 26-year-old explained. “I’m no expert, and when people push me into a corner of ‘here’s Emma Watson to lecture you on feminism’, it’s uncomfortable because I am aware I have a long way to go. I am not sure I deserve all the respect I get yet, but I’m working on it.”

Despite her passion for activism, the star, who rose to fame as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies and plays Belle in Disney’s forthcoming live action version of Beauty and the Beast, says she is glad to return to acting after taking time off to promote feminist causes.

“For me, Beauty (and the Beast) was the perfect, most joyful thing to do,” she added. “There was something connected about Hermione and Belle, and it was good to be reminded that I am an actress; this is what I do. The film is pure escapism.”

Beauty and the Beast debuts in cinemas next month (Mar17).