Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson was born on April 15, 1990, in Paris, France, but raised in England. Her parents, both British lawyers, are Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson. Her brother, Alex, was born three years later.

The actress got her breakthrough role as a child in the hugely successful Harry Potter film franchise. Emma grew up on camera as she reprised her role as one of Harry Potter’s best friends, Hermione Granger, throughout the entire course of the film series. After committing to the Harry Potter series for a decade, she has transitioned into a popular adult model and actress, having appeared in the popular films The Perks of Being a Wallflower and My Week with Marilyn.

Emma attended the Stagecoach Theatre Arts school at Oxford. She studied singing, acting and dancing, and performed in school plays. Her natural instinct for acting first came out when she won a poetry competition for reciting James Reeves’ “The Sea” at age 7. Emma had never acted professionally when her theater teachers suggested her to agents looking to cast an upcoming movie based on the first novel of the best-selling Harry Potter series.

A 9-year-old Emma auditioned eight times for the role that would make her an international star. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was deeply involved in the film process to make sure it stayed true to the book, wanted her for the role of Hermione from her first screen test.

Emma sufficiently impressed casting agents and the film’s producers, and won the role of Hermione Granger, Harry Potter’s smart, bossy best friend and voice of reason. Harry Potter was portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint was cast as Ron Weasley, Harry’s other best friend. The trio of British child actors would become known around the globe for their roles as young wizards fighting a battle between good and evil. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in November 2001.

Emma’s 11-year-old film debut was an enormous success. It grossed more than $974 million worldwide. On opening day in the United States, the film made a record-breaking $33.3 million. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, and seven BAFTA Awards. Emma’s performance received critical praise, and her status as an up-and-coming young film star was made.

For the next decade Emma stayed busy filming the Potter series. In 2002 she reprised the role of Hermione for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in 2004 for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and continued to star in the eight-part series through the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, in 2011.

Though Emma’s been closely identified with her Harry Potter character, as an adolescent the young actress wanted to be seen as more. In 2007 she starred in another film based on a children’s novel, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. The film was aired on BBC One, and with Emma in the lead role, garnered decent, if not stellar, reviews.

In 2008, Emma branched out into animated work, voicing the character of Princess Pea in The Tale of Despereaux.

In September 2009 Emma announced that she was working with People Tree, a fashion label that promotes fair trade. She catapulted into the world of high fashion and modeling when she was chosen as the face of Burberry’s Autumn/Winter 2009 collection, and again for the 2010 Spring/Summer collection.

Maintaining her commitment to her education, Emma enrolled as a freshman at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in the fall of 2009.

In March 2011 Emma announced that she was deferring her schooling to work on the Potter finale. In July 2011, she announced plans to return to Brown for a year to complete her degree after studying at Oxford University in the fall. She graduated from Brown in 2014 with an English degree. That same year, she was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. She continues to speak out for women’s rights and equality.

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