I’m a little worried about young Emma Watson. Back in the year 2000, at the age of ten, she won the Hollywood Lottery and was cast as Hermione Granger in the first Harry Potter film. How does a sweet, young, innocent actress survive in the decadent environment of the actor’s profession? One hopes she received enough parental oversight to guide her away from danger in that hazardous business.

Her overnight success (which took some ten years to achieve) has led to fame and great wealth, so Miss Watson is now set for life, whether or not she accomplishes anything else. But the advantages of money lead to the temptations of power, and a slide into the realms of the Dark Lord. Let us hope she has the strength of character to appreciate the real lessons of the Harry Potter stories and to resist corrupting influences.

Why am I worrying about the welfare of this famous actress whom I will never meet? I care because she’s such a sweetheart, and we older guys have protective instincts toward girls who remind us of our daughters and granddaughters. It would be a terrible shame for such a talented and promising youngster to be sucked into the Hollywood whirlpool of vice, drugs, sex, ruin and despair.

When I saw the first Harry Potter movie, I was impressed by the acting skills Emma brought to the role of Hermione. Her character is smart, confident, maybe a little haughty, yet worried about her ability to succeed in the demanding academic environment of Hogwarts. I think she pulled off the performance brilliantly, and many of the professional film critics agree. Where did the casting director find a youngster who could handle such a role?

We can get a clue from her biography.* She was born April 15, 1990, in Paris. She moved to England with her parents when she was five, to grow up in Oxfordshire. By the time she turned six, Emma decided she wanted to get into acting. She studied at a Theatre Arts facility in Oxford and showed remarkable talent. When the casting call went out for Harry Potter, one of her instructors advised her to try out. She was chosen.

Now, eleven years after her debut, she has starred in all eight of the Harry Potter films, improving her craft with each movie. In 2007 she accepted the role of Pauline in the BBCs production of “Ballet Shoes.” I saw the film, and felt she did a creditable job, although I’m not a fan of the genre. She did receive critical acclaim from the industry.

Lately we have seen her on the cover of several women’s magazines, so she is starting to make an impression on the fashion world, as well as appearing in advertising for several products in the glamor industry.

Her formal education was interrupted by her movie making obligations, so she couldn’t participate in the usual classroom environment most students of her age receive. Instead, she was tutored on the movie set for up to five hours a day. At the end, she achieved outstanding grades on her GCSEs.**

As of mid-2011, Miss Watson has completed several semesters of study in the liberal arts at Brown University, and has kept her grades up. The fact that she has chosen to go to college is a good sign. Now that she is an adult and is, presumably, responsible for her own decisions, let us wish that she continues to make the right choices to advance her career and happiness, rather than falling back into the insidious traps of Hollywood.

Will success spoil Emma Watson? I certainly hope not, so I will be watching her career unfold, following her progress with interest.

Check-back here every year or so for updates on my analysis of her progress.

Later, John.
September 2011

* Biography extracted from Miss Watson’s official website, http://www.emmawatson.com
** General Certificate of Secondary Education, the standardized academic qualification exams in England.

P.S. For more of my insights on Hollywood, see Chapter 21 of my book “48 Hours to Chaos: An Engineer Looks at Life and How the World Really Works.”

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