Emma Watson recently announced that she’s taking a year off from acting to devote herself to the HeForShe gender equality initiative, and in a new interview with the U.K. edition of Esquire, Watson says she’s not letting critics who call her a “diva” or a “feminazi” stop her from speaking out.
“We are not supposed to talk about money, because people will think you’re ‘difficult’ or a ‘diva,’” Watson told the magazine for its April issue. “But there’s a willingness now to be like, ‘Fine. Call me a ‘diva,’ call me a ‘feminazi,’ call me ‘difficult,’ call me a ‘First World feminist,’ call me whatever you want, it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.’ Because it doesn’t just affect me, it affects all the other women who are in this with me, and it affects all the other men who are in this with me, too.”
In addition to discussing issues like the gender wage gap and why men need to fight for gender equality, Watson spoke about the sexism she has experienced due to her long-time fame, saying that there are many times she’s felt afraid for her safety.
“I’ve had my arse slapped as I’ve left a room,” Watson added. “I’ve felt scared walking home. I’ve had people following me. I don’t talk about these experiences much, because coming from me they’ll sound like a huge deal and I don’t want this to be about me, but most women I know have experienced it and worse… this is unfortunately how it is. It’s so much more pervasive than we acknowledge. It shouldn’t be an acceptable fact of life that women should be afraid.”
Watson also elaborated on her recent decision to take time off from acting to focus on the HeForShe campaign, a project she helped launch with the UN that encourages both men and women to focus on gender equality.
“This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” Watson said. “It’s so awesome to be at the forefront of that wave and that energy and just being able to channel that which I found mildly horrifying — all of the crazy attention on me — and doing something good with it, it just feels like I’m really doing what I’m meant to be doing.”
Read the full interview with Watson at Esquire.