These days, Emma Watson is as renowned for her acting as she is for her activism – a notion that, at first glance, is hard to reconcile with her latest role as a Disney princess.
What kind of feminist decides to don a frothy ball gown and play up stereotypes as old as time?
But the new Beauty and the Beast, we’re told, is different – and it’s all thanks to Emma. She went through the script with a fine tooth comb, swapping Belle’s iconic blue and white day dress for breeches in horse-riding scenes and ballet flats for sturdy boots (although she kept the golden gown, and so would we).
Costume changes aside, how do we know this Beauty and the Beast will be told through a feminist lens? Because Gloria Steinem says so.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Emma reveals she took Gloria Steinem with her to the first screening in London. “I couldn’t care less if I won an Oscar or not if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear,” she says.
Emma has long been a fervent Gloria Steinem fan, and chose her book My Life on the Road as the first for her bi-monthly online book club, Our Shared Shelf, in January 2016.
So she must have been relieved when Steinem lavished the film with praise. “It was fascinating that her activism could be so well mirrored in the film,” Steinem tells Vanity Fair.
“It’s this love of literature that first bonds the Beauty to the Beast, and also what develops the entire story.”
Get a glimpse of what Steinem’s talking about by watching the trailer here.