Emma Watson would like some time to read (how Hermione of her, right?). In fact, she’s so bent on her studies that she plans to take off the next year to focus on “personal development.”
In the unfortunately-titled article “Emma Watson Is Taking a Year Off From Acting to Focus on Feminism,” Us Weekly reports that this pause in the actress’s career will afford her time to devote to her United Nations HeForShe project. But as she told bell hooks in a “girl crush”-themed interview at Paper Magazine, her hiatus will also be spent in quieter, more solitary ways. Watson explains to hooks:
“I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really. My own personal development is one...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 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. That I was learning so much on my own. 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.”
As hooks puts it in their interview, Watson will be “homeschooling” herself for the time being, and it seems that her conversation with hooks may as well serve as part of the curriculum. They discuss the latter’s foundational text, Feminism is for Everybody, delve into a critique of Amy Schumer’s video “Last Fuckable Day,” and acknowledge the importance of discussing feminist perspectives outside of an academic context.
And, of course, they discuss Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, a character that “fascinated” hooks (and did not, apparently, inspire complicated theoretical labels, as did the “terrorist” Beyonce in 2014).
“It was both exciting and at times infuriating to watch the way the character of Hermione developed,” hooks says, “and to see this vibrant image of a girl who was just so intelligent, who is such a thinker, then to also witness that that intelligence was placed in the service of boy power. Even so, it remains an important representation for girls.”
In agreement, Watson comments that Hermione was as critical for her as she was to other bookish girls.
“She’s important because she...I just really identified with her,” Watson reflects. “I was the girl in school whose hand shot up to answer the questions. I was really eager to learn in an uncool way. In a super uncool way, actually. And then the character of Hermione gave me permission to be who I was.”
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