Emma Watson
Emma Watson is going to star as Belle in Disney’s live movie adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” In this photo, Watson arrives for the UK premiere of “Noah” in London on March 31, 2014. Reuters/Paul Hackett

Girls are conditioned to look up to female heroes, while boys are expected to idolize male heroes. But “Beauty and the Beast” star Emma Watson believes this barrier must be broken, and people should look up to whoever they relate to the most.

“Anything that deviates from the norm is difficult to accept. I think if you’ve been used to watching characters that look like, sound like, think like you and then you see someone up on the screen and you go, ‘Well, that’s a girl, she doesn’t look like me. I want it to look like me so that I can project myself onto the character,’” she told Entertainment Weekly.

Watson said culture dismisses any notion of acting like “such a girl,” and people are told to “man up” whenever they have to be tough and brave. Due to this, Watson said it’s no wonder men are afraid to look up to female heroes.

“If I asked a young boy what superhero they looked up to, I feel a lot fewer would say a female one or would ever use an example of a female one, than in reverse, which is a shame because I feel like we need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men,” she said. “I hope that — I think — that’s starting to slowly change, but it is something that does actively need to be addressed.”

Watson said that Belle is actually someone people could look up to because she is kind and brave and has a mind of her own.

“That’s the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice. There’s this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact that she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her,” she told Total Film.

“Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Bill Condon, will hit cinemas on March 17.