Emma Watson plays Beauty in the upcoming Disney musical, but the actress is also a beast of an activist. About a year ago, in an interview with Paper magazine, she revealed that she was taking a year off from acting to focus on changing the world. This week, Watson appears on the cover of the new issue of Elle UK wearing sustainable clothing, and the magazine announced plans to name her ‘Woman of the Year’ at the upcoming Elle Style Awards.
Describing her year of activism, Watson said, “It wasn’t about me necessarily proving anything… I was just thinking that I have this year to myself, so let’s see what we can do to 'move the needle’ and make a difference.” Her efforts to make a difference included starting an online book club called Our Shared Shelf, which reads feminists books together. Watson promotes the club’s selections on Instagram by sharing images of herself posing with the latest book:
As a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Watson has traveled the world to educate herself about women’s issues, and she often speaks out about the importance of gender equality. The attention she gets for her activism isn’t always positive, but she told Elle UK, “It really toughened me up…There is a level of criticism that comes with being an actress and a public figure, which I expect, but once you take a stance on something like feminism, that’s a completely different ball game.”
She’s not about to let her critics hold her back. In fact, she seem stronger and more empowered than ever, especially in this photo: