Emma Watson putting acting on hold to focus on gender equality issues

“Harry Potter” film-series star Emma Watson says she is putting her career on hold for one year to devote her time to combating gender inequality.

“I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really,” the 25-year-old British actress told feminist author bell hooks in an interview for Paper magazine. “My own personal development is one,” she said, adding that she was “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. . . . I actually wanted to keep on the path that I’m on.”

In addition, Watson — a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations organization UN Women — will continue with the affiliated HeForShe Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality. “My UN speech was received really well,” she said, referring to her Sept. 20, 2014, address before that international body, inaugurating the group’s campaign. Responding to some critics who believed her speech was too “basic,” she said this was intentional. “I don’t know if it’s really understood how much misunderstanding and how little understanding there is around this word — and around these ideas — still for a huge amount of people.”

Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the 2001-2011 film series, said that during the coming year, “I want to listen to as many different women in the world as I can” and to publicize the wage gap experienced by working women compared to their male counterpart. “Our HeForShe IMPACT champions are 10 CEOs who . . . releasing to the media what their companies look like internally,” she said, adding that, “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. . . . ”