Emma Watson Is Taking an Acting Break in the Name of Feminism

In a recent Paper Magazine piece, feminist activist bell hooks had a conversation with Emma Watson. The two women had nothing but admiration for each other: bell hooks admitted to being fascinated by Emma Watson’s Hermione character in the Harry Potter films, while Watson explained how her position with UN Women — she is a goodwill ambassador — was the catalyst to familiarizing herself with hooks’ work.

Although the entire conversation is a thrilling read, one of the most interesting topics doesn’t come until the middle. “I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really,” Watson told hooks. “I’m doing a huge amount of reading and study just on my own.” And Watson really seems to value this self-taught approach, confessing, “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.”

bell hooks also apparently inspired Watson’s choice. “I know that you read a book a day. 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.”

But reading isn’t the only thing that Watson wants to do with this time off. She is also launching several new initiatives through her HeForShe solidarity campaign (including a university tour and a website) and managing her newly minted Twitter feminist book group, Our Shared Shelf.

Watson truly does seem excited about her ongoing learning process when it comes down to her work as a celebrity activist. She’s already seeing the fruits of her labor. “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.”