Emma Watson Reveals Why She Was Advised Not to Use the Word "Feminist" in UN HeForShe Campaign Speech

"People felt that it was alienating," the actress tells PORTER

By Zach Johnson Nov 30, 2015 4:59 PMTags
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Emma Watson knows who she is and what she believes in.

Case in point: Before the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador was set to launch the HeForShe gender equality campaign in September 2014, someone asked Watson to do the unthinkable: "I was encouraged not to use the word 'feminism' because people felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible," the actress and activist reveals in PORTER's Winter Escape Issue 12 (via The Evening Standard). "But I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?"

Watson wasn't afraid to use her voice then, and it only grew louder as time went on. In fact, she's become more vocal about her career. "[I've] spent more than half of my life pretending to be someone else. While my contemporaries were dying their hair and figuring out who they were, I was figuring out who Hermione was and how best to portray her," recalls Watson, who starred alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in eight Harry Potter films from 2001 to 2011. "Now at 25, for the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I'm comfortable with. I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self."

"I don't want there to be a big separation between the public and the private person," she adds. "It's definitely the harder road to tread, but without a doubt, ultimately the most rewarding." In other words, what you see is what you get. "It sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but I'm very interested in truth, in finding ways to be messy and unsure and flawed and incredible and great and my fullest self, all wrapped into one," she says. "When you watch the work of someone like actress Emma Thompson, you feel like you're seeing something true, and I aspire to that."

PORTER's Winter Escape Issue 12 goes on sale Friday.