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After World World II, Hepburn moved to Amsterdam to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina. However, because of her height and weak constitution made weaker by undernourishment during the war, ballet wasn’t in the cards, so she turned her focus to acting. In 1950, after being spotted in a theatrical production of Sauce Piquante, Hepburn became a freelance actress and took on several minor roles throughout the coming years, leading up to her breakthrough role as Princess Anne in 1953’s Roman Holiday. She would go on to star in several more major films, building a storied Hollywood career and bringing her to her most iconic role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (watch online). She was the very picture of high fashion and sophistication and became synonymous with the class and elegance.
Emma Watson started off quite humbly as well. At the age of nine, she was cast as the role of Hermione Granger when her theater teacher at the time recommended her to casting directors and, like Hepburn, the producers were impressed by Watson’s confidence. Throughout her years as Miss Granger, reprising her role a total of eight times in the Harry Potter films (find streaming info here), Watson’s performance remained stellar and she continued to receive praises and awards, including the Otto Award from German magazine Bravo for her excellent performance on screen.
Both women have proven to be quite the chameleons when it comes to their on screen portrayals, despite both having said they are extremely introverted. Hepburn varied in her roles of acting and musical performances, but was typically cast in roles as the “innocent” or princess, though each distinct and memorable in their own right. Watson on the other hand, wanted to depart sharply from her time as Hermione, and would go on to star in other movies such as The Bling Ring (2013), My Week with Marilyn (2011), and This is the End (2013).
Each role presenting a new challenge for the typecasted “innocent” actress, Watson is now taking a cue from her golden age counterpart and stepping into her most challenging role to date. While Hepburn is known for her sweet singing voice in a number of films, many are unaware of the star’s start on stage, where her dance skills got her work in musical theater productions. A seasoned Broadway performer by the time she began regularly appearing on screen, Hepburn made the easy transition to singing on film. Scheduled to play Belle in Disney’s 2017 live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Watson is now anxiously awaiting her first singing role.
Not only is it possible to draw parallels between these two women’s careers on screen, both have devoted themselves to humanitarian work as well – Hepburn as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Watson currently, as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Hepburn devoted much of her time and energy, especially in her later years, to the UNICEF organization frequently traveling to impoverished communities in Africa, South America, and Asia. She held her position as an Ambassador for five years, and in the years leading up to her death she worked with UNICEF to support immunization and clean water programs in Vietnam.
Like Hepburn, Watson is as driven and as passionate in her own chosen cause. Just last year, Watson was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and in the months to follow a very nervous Watson would give a speech at the UN headquarters in New York City to launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe. Watson has promoted girls’ education for several years and has also traveled to Bangladesh and Zambia to advocate for women’s rights there as well as worked with Fair Trade to develop a small clothing line.
It’s safe to say that Watson, while still at the beginning of her humanitarian career, has begun to make her mark on the world and understands the power of her influence, as well. We can expect Watson to continue to follow closely in Hepburn’s footsteps and do what she can to pave a better future for all. These women are well educated, humble, and have worked extremely hard for what they built, effectively putting their influence to great use. In the end, it is the way in which these women present themselves that puts them ahead of their time. Equally classy, both in their demeanor and in the way they dress, proving to women of all ages that their conservative style and staying true to themselves in the face of fame will endure as timeless beauty for years to come.