- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

Emma Watson has announced that she will take a year off from acting to focus on feminism and her own “personal development.”

The British “Harry Potter” actress, who was appointed in 2014 as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, discussed her new journey with author and feminist Bell Hooks in an interview for Paper magazine.

“I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really,” Ms. Watson, 25, said. “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,” she added. “I’m reading a lot this year, and I want to do a lot of listening.”

Ms. Watson said she will also work on the HeForShe initiative, which focuses on engaging men to fight for women’s rights and gender equality. She has also launched a feminist book group on Twitter, called Our Shared Shelf, The Guardian reported.

“I’m on my journey with this and it might change, but I can tell you that what is really liberating and empowering me through being involved in feminism is that for me the biggest liberation has been that so much of the self-critiquing is gone,” she said. “So much energy and time — even in subtle ways — I’m 25 now and I’ve certainly come a long way from where I was in my early 20s. 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.

“I guess if I could give women anything through feminism — or you’re asking about power — it would just be, to be able to move away, to move through all of that,” Mr. Watson said. “I see so many women struggling with issues of self-esteem. They know and they hear it and they read it in magazines and books all the time that self-love is really important, but it’s really hard to actually do.”

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