By Anna Hecht
Updated Apr 15, 2017 @ 7:00 am
Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP

Birthday girl Emma Watson has always been ahead of her time. For more than a decade, the now 27-year-old actress turned gender-rights advocate played Hermione Granger, a headstrong, book-smart young wizard, er, witch, in the Harry Potter movie franchise. Today, Watson's no longer casting spells to save the day, but she is still using her smarts to change the world for the better.

As a self-proclaimed feminist and an appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Watson's spent the past few years putting her A-lister status to good use. Not only does she regularly speak publicly on the issue of gender equality, but she also launched the HeForShe campaign as a way of encouraging men and boys to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.

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And so, in honor of Watson's special day and her admirable efforts, we rounded up some of her most inspiring, empowering quotes in support of women and gender equality.

On gender-dividing ideals: "Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals."

On self love: "I guess if I could give women anything through feminism—or you're asking about power—it would just be, to be able to move away, to move through all of that. I see so many women struggling with issues of self-esteem. They know and they hear it and they read it in magazines and books all the time that self-love is really important, but it's really hard to actually do."

On finding confidence: "Don't let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do, or cannot achieve. Do not allow it."

On being her most authentic self: "It sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but I’m very interested in truth, in finding ways to be messy and unsure and flawed and incredible and great and my fullest self, all wrapped into one."

On supporting one another: "If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom."

On wearing what feels best: "I want to feel fabulous and comfortable and sexy and strong and beautiful. And if it’s making you uncomfortable, don’t do it. It’s so sad if you need to go home just because you need to sit down! Moving forward, I’m prioritizing just feeling awesome."

On winning equality: "I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Of the producers I’ve worked with 13 have been male and only one has been a woman. But I am lucky: I have always insisted on being treated equally and have generally won that equality."

On societal expectations: "I feel like young girls are told this whole idea that they have to be this kind of princess and be all delicate and fragile and that’s bulls—. I identify much more with the idea of being a warrior and being a fighter."

On courage: "I’m constantly doing things that are new so that takes bravery I guess, but I think it’s just have faith in yourself and believe in yourself."