Emma Watson, unlike most stars of long-running series, has managed to make a name for herself outside of her famous character.
It was a difficult feat for someone whose character we grew up alongside for 10 years, but Emma has pulled herself away from the beloved Hermione Granger and graciously found a way to make her real self just as lovable and admirable as her fictional counterpart.
And after countless humanitarian efforts and a recent ground-breaking speech at the UN, one can't help but wonder, did Hermione Granger rub off a little on Emma or did Emma Watson rub off on Hermione?
This past weekend, Ms. Watson delivered a moving speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in attempt to fight the negative connotations associated with the word "feminism."
Declaring herself a feminist, she spoke on behalf HeForShe, an organization aimed at redefining gender equality.
Appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for UN women six months ago, Emma proudly stepped forward as the face of feminism, despite how unattractive, unappealing and uncomfortable it's made out to be in today's media.
She is the voice for women in a world of men and I can't help but think that JK Rowling would be proud.
While the serious nature of Emma's speech should not be bogged down by trite comparisons, one can't help but want to compare Ms. Watson's fight for women to Hermione Granger's fight for muggles. In today's world, defining herself as a feminist is about as bold and dangerous as defining yourself as a "mudblood."
These comparisons are not that fantastical, as JK Rowling admitted to pulling most of the inspiration for the muggle-born population from her work with Amnesty International.
In the "Harry Potter" series, muggle borns were representative of the oppressed and having worked with hundreds of people displaced from their homes, beaten for their beliefs and murdered for who they were, Rowling was able to create very adult themes in a very child-like book.
As the books progressed, the serious nature of Harry and his friends' fight to defeat Lord Voldemort was seen less and less as a children's book and more as an adult novel with heavy themes of depression, injustice and the cruelty of man.
As she eloquently spoke about the injustices of women and the fight for gender equality, "Harry Potter" fans everywhere couldn't help but compare the poised nature and intelligence of Emma to the endearing qualities of Hermione and her constant quest to make herself -- and everyone else -- better wizards and muggles, alike.
1. She Champions As A Prefect, Even In A Muggle World
In her speech, Emma admits that she wasn't sure exactly why she was chosen to be the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, although, to everyone else, the choice seemed obvious.
After completing one of the most profitable movie series in history, Watson managed to go on and receive a degree from Brown. She is part of multiple humanitarian efforts and organizations and not afraid to speak her mind.
She is intelligent, poised and a brilliant example for women and young girls everywhere. Much like her real world résumé, Hermione also outshined her peers, leading to a position as Prefect, one of the most coveted and respected positions for a student at Hogwarts.
Given extra authority and responsibility, her position as Prefect in the competitive wizarding school parallels her recent appointment as ambassador to one of the most prestigious establishments of the free world.
2. She Led A Real Life S.P.E.W. Campaign
Before her appointment as goodwill ambassador, Emma worked on with the campaign for female education as well as fair trade in Bangladesh.
This work is not far off from her fictional character's quest for equality of all creatures through S.P.E.W, or, The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, a society Ms. Granger founded to fight for the right of house elves.
Much like how Emma reached out to bring awareness and change to the working conditions of garment factory workers in Bangladesh, Hermione set up her foundation in response to the injustices of the treatment of house elves in the wizarding world.
She set up S.P.E.W. to not just champion their rights, but to also bring about a campaign for their right to legal status.
3. She Comes From Muggle Parents
Unlike most of her peers, Emma did not get her start in the world of acting because of connections. She did not have famous parents or friends in the industry. The daughter of two lawyers, she propelled herself off sheer talent and will.
If we were to compare her status in the acting world to that of the wizarding world, her parents would indeed be deemed "muggles."
Making a name for herself as one of the brightest students at Hogwarts, Hermione constantly faced the pressure of being born outside of magic blood. Yet she, much like Emma, proved that it doesn't matter who or where you come from, but how well you make your own name.
4. She's Book Smart But Knows The Value Of Real-World Relationships
Much like Hermione, Emma is intelligent, studious and hardworking. She is part of multiple organizations, clubs and humanitarian efforts that give her a résumé that few -- besides Angelina Jolie -- could compete with.
Like her fictional counterpart, however, she understands the value outside of those things and the real world problems that need attention, like being a woman.
The fight for gender equality is a broad issue, one that has been plaguing women in every country for generations. Much like her fight to help Harry on his quest for the horcruxes and defeat of Voldemort, Emma is able to look outside the statistics and lets her actions speak louder than her words.
5. She's Been Fighting Alongside Men For Decades
In the same way that Hermione fights beside Harry, Emma is also fighting alongside men... not against them. As she pointed out in her speech, she does not want to fight, but rather, she wants to change the dialogue.
She, much like Hermione, has made countless sacrifices in the name of this cause. She calls herself a feminist at the risk of condemnation. Yet she is not just following the feminist movement, she is leading it.
To the casual reader, while the books may seem to be about following Harry on his quest, it's also about Hermione's individual journey and her path to becoming the woman we meet at the series' end.
In an interview for Wonderland Magazine, JK Rowling and Emma Watson discussed the roles of Harry and Hermione. Reading it now, it's clear that the discussion was an enlightening and uncanny look at the similarities between Ms. Watson's fight and Ms. Granger's:
Rowling: That is just it, you are so right. All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn’t Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron.
He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then he had to make friends with the hero of it all and that’s a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.
But Hermione’s always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you starting shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s at the end.
Watson: I completely agree and the fact that they were true equals and the fact that she really said goodbye to her family makes it her sacrifice too.
Photo credit: WENN