Being a part of the film industry as an actor must feel amazing. People think that this person is living on top of the world and has everything an individual craves for which probably is unimaginable for them, right? Surely not! Fame is something that can change a person for better or for worse, and being on top can feel lonely as well as burdensome. What does it feel like to have all eyes on you when you do something? On one hand, you might feel queasy and paranoid but on the other hand, with enough willpower, you are managing it with grace.
In this article, I will tell you about one such actor who debuted in Hollywood at the young age of eleven years old in one of the most beloved film franchises based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series: Emma Watson.
Watson was cast in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone through an audition at her school’s gym when she was around eight or nine years old. The release of the film in 2001 marked her film debut after which her career organically flourished. In between her film career, she was also studying for her GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) school exams in 2006 and A levels in 2007, successfully getting A’s and A*.
Most child actors while focusing on their careers forget their education which is important in a person’s life, but the system might restrict them to go out of the box (some actors who are successful haven’t studied in school or college because they were sure that this is the career they wanted to pursue). For example, at the premiere of 2013 film Kill Your Darlings, actor and fellow Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe at a red carpet interview with E! News was asked about going to college just like his former co-star Emma Watson, to which he said, “I thought about it, but then I stopped thinking about it. I don’t mean to sound in any way dismissive of it, but for me, I already knew what I wanted to do. I think a large part of why people go to college is to figure out what they want to do.” He continued, “I very much knew what I wanted to do, so I kind of just figured I’d keep carrying on trying to do that.”
After she wrapped up the Harry Potter film franchise, she continued her studies, graduating in 2014 from Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature. While acting in films, she also involved herself in social issues like women’s rights. One of the most notable works she did for women’s rights as a UN Goodwill Ambassador is the HeForShe campaign by UN Women, an entity of the United Nations in July 2014.
Is This What I Want?
Last year in an interview with British Vogue, she talked about how during her time when she was working in the Harry Potter series, she was not able to handle her fame, which made her feel guilty. She felt that she did not deserve such fame. To grapple with this, she sought help through therapy.
She said, “That’s another thing I’ve sat in therapy and felt really really guilty about to be honest is like, why me? Somebody else would have enjoyed and wanted this aspect of it more than I did. I struggle with, I’ve wrestled a lot with the guilt around that. I should be enjoying this more. I should be more excited, and I’m actually really struggling.”
For some people who are die-hard Potterheads (fans of Harry Potter), this may have come as a shock because for a child actor who has made millions of people smile and entertained, now 29 years old, was suffering behind the scenes. One can’t help but feel sympathetic for Watson. But here’s the thing, when someone struggles with their mental health issues, one thing that people should keep in mind is trying not to sympathise with them or pity them, because doing so, you might be indirectly making them feel miserable. Empathy means trying to understand people by putting yourself in one’s shoes and is an essential factor to understand people’s struggles.
Watson was able to deal with fame by keeping herself grounded, which is trying to remember her roots. In other words, what’s her true identity? Where did she come from? Asking herself such questions hasn’t just made her grounded, but also prevented her from being disconnected with her surroundings. In a way, Emma ensured that she felt balanced in her life or in her own words, being “self-partnered” in life.
For a person who wants to live their life to the fullest, dealing with the situations and circumstances with a balanced mind is something we all strive for. But the way in which the world is changing dynamically, anyone would feel lost and won’t know when to pull oneself together and rise above their problems. In a fickle industry in any part of the world, apart from Hollywood and Hindi film industry/Bollywood, this is worse for any celebrity, for whom ordinary life is just a luxury now.
With more celebrities talking about their mental health in recent years, the public may have realised that being successful doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems. But the problem is that, when it comes to mental health, it’s usually about anxiety and depression, and sometimes bipolar disorder. But what about other disorders? Not everyone suffers from anxiety and depression only. On the other hand, just because you aren’t suffering from any mental disorders or a condition doesn’t mean that you can’t go to therapy, and Emma Watson taking the help of therapy to deal with fame proves it.
Watson’s efforts to stay grounded is a reminder for all of us that it’s never too late to remind yourself of your roots and embrace them as part of your identity. It’s not easy to introspect and ask yourself questions because it takes time to find answers. But keep we must keep at it!