he recent release of a reimagined, live-action version of the classic 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast, has generations of Disney die-hards giggling with excitement. As often happens with princess films, all eyes are on the lucky lady who gets to portray the envied role of the beautiful Belle. Thankfully for her, the generally consensus was in the form of a sigh of relief when the figure of a young miss Emma Watson filled the yellow dress and the big screen.
For many college aged people, Emma Watson’s name and face are accompanied by fond memories of her time in the role of the rule-abiding bookworm, Hermione Granger, in the 2001-2001 film versions of the adored book series, Harry Potter. Considering the sheer mass of author, J.K. Rowling’s, support pushed the franchise through one best-selling play script, two theme parks, seven best-selling books, and nine multi-million dollar films (including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), it’s hard to deny that the Potter fanbase is both humongous and passionate to say the least.
However, these statistics reveal only the numbers. Behind those numbers is the honest emotion, the kind that accompanies the news that your cousins or old childhood friends, the ones who helped you through the difficult, formative years of your life, have grown up and achieved the goals they’ve had since they were young. I mean, we grew up with this girl! She was the face of all of the brave kids, the “bossy” intelligent girls, whose exciting adventures and wild imaginations kept them going as they struggled through middle and elementary school at the same time Hermione was struggling through the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Now we get to see her grown-up and reaching her full potential while still reading books, challenging the norms, and causing cracks to form in that ever-present glass ceiling.
To keep the theme of imagination going, let’s imagine that Emma Watson really was a close childhood friend. Here’s what it might look like to see her transformation as you flip through the pages of an old family photo album…
2001, eleven years old: Emma is very pleased with her new haircut; bangs are super in.
2002, twelve years old: Of course, you can’t forget the obligatory awkward middle school picture.
2004, fourteen years old: You used your new flip phone to capture this shot of her beating up the freshman year bully after he wouldn’t stop picking on you. Her mom wasn’t very happy, but you printed it out and pasted it in anyway because obviously it was cool (and it meant a lot that she would stick up for you like that).
2007, seventeen years old: Her junior prom! You definitely did not like her date, but she was so excited that you couldn’t bear to tell her that he probably was up to no good.
2008, eighteen years old: Her senior prom! The junior year boy broke her heart, just like you predicted. You told her you could get one of your guy friends to go with her, but she told you that she didn’t need a date to have fun…and she was right. She went stag, and you two laughed and danced the night away.
2010, twenty years old: She went to college out of state, craving the city life. She joined several activist groups and studied way too hard, but she was well liked for her kindness as well as her intelligence.