emma watson is taking a year off acting to focus on feminist activism

In conversation with feminist icon bell hooks, Watson reveals how she'll spend the most productive stretch of vacation leave ever.

by Hannah Ongley
19 February 2016, 5:39pm

Taking a year off work to read a mountain of books sounds like heaven, honestly, but if there's one woman who you can trust not to let a moment of downtime go to waste it's actress-turned-activist Emma Watson. Well, her and bell hooks, who apparently burns through a novel every single damn day. That's what happens when you don't have Instagram. 

Recently the two feminist icons got together for a pretty riveting conversation, in which Watson revealed that she won't be returning to the silver screen (nor, we assume, to the red carpet) any time soon. But that doesn't mean she won't still be all up in our timelines. Watson will instead be focusing on feminist activism, giving particular attention to the #HeForShe campaign that she launched in September 2014 in her new role as UN Global Goodwill Ambassador. And yeah, she'll be reading a whole bunch of books, but don't expect to see anything by E. L. James on the list. 

"I'm taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really," she tells hooks. "My own personal development is one. 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. 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. 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."

One of her first tasks as homeschooled feminist heroine will be ripping the lid off the wage gap, by exposing the CEO gender breakdown of large companies including Vodafone and Unilever. 

"This January, our HeForShe IMPACT champions are ten CEOs who for the first time will be releasing to the media what their companies look like internally," she reveals. "So how many CEOs are male or female, the gender wage gap. We'll be making all of these statements completely transparent, which is huge. It's never been done before. So big companies like Vodafone, Unilever and Tupperware will be standing up to the media and really acknowledging the issues within their own companies and talking about how they are planning to address these issues as HeForShe IMPACT champions. I'm very interested and excited to see how that works out. I'll also take another field trip in the next two or three months. We are organizing a HeForShe arts week, a university tour, and launching the HeForShe website. It's a lot. There's a lot to do."

On second thought that's quite a lot to accomplish in just twelve months. But don't worry, she'll have time for fun — specifically, "completing my yoga Level 3 for meditation teaching." Where's that Time-Turner necklace when you need it?


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via @emmawatson

Emma Watson
bell hooks