J.K. Rowling, easily one of the most recognisable names in a millennial household, cast a spell over readers a decade and a half ago with her award-winning Harry Potter series. Yet, Rowling’s ambitions did not idly sit after her massive success with the HP series. She has become a force to reckon with outside of the literary world by promoting human rights and creating new avenues for literacy. She is my number one role model in life, and here are the top ten reasons why J.K. Rowling should be yours too.
- She founded Lumos
Lumos, an NGO founded by J.K. Rowling, focuses on giving institutionalised children the help they need to return to their families and a life where they can become their best selves. This, in my opinion, is more magical than any Harry Potter book. Their purpose is to provide children with the care and love necessary to develop a proper understating of themselves in the world around them. Rowling founded the charity after reading an article in the Sunday Times. On her website, she states the following: “I looked at that photograph of the boy in his cage bed and felt he has absolutely no voice. This touched me as nothing else has because I can think of nobody more powerless than a child, perhaps with a mental or a physical disability, locked away from their family. It was a very shocking realisation to me and that’s where the whole thing started.”
- She is a self-made billionaire
That’s right. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter brand has a net worth estimated at $15 billion dollars. Her own sole net worth is $1 billion and it’s from the royalties of her HP series, along with her other recently published adult novels. The Harry Potter films alone are the highest grossing box office series in history, raking in a total of $7.7 billion dollars. Her wealth has surpassed the Queen of England and ranks alongside female powerhouses like Oprah.
- Her tenacity
Previous to being one of the wealthiest women in the world, Rowling was on welfare. In her biographical movie, “Magic Beyond Words,” it follows her journey from being a young girl up until the premiere of the first HP movie. It showcases her struggles from a bad marriage, to being penniless, to being rejected by several literary agents. Yet, through all of this, she never gave up on her own potential as a writer. That deserves some applause and appreciation because she made her dream a reality.
- She is pro-gay rights
J.K. Rowling has a massive Twitter following – 5.11 million to be exact. On here, she revealed the beloved headmaster, Dumbledore, was gay. A fan questioned her saying, “I wonder why you said Dumbledore was gay because I could never see him that way,” to which she replied, “Maybe because gay people just look like… people?” Sassy and to the point.
- She thinks outside the box
A lot of writers write solely within one genre; not J.K. Rowling! She has not only put out an astronomically successful young adult series but has since topped the charts with her books, “The Casual Vacancy,” and her new Cormoran Strike mystery series. Her book, “A Casual Vacancy,” explores the intricacies of a small town and what can happen when humans alienate one another over petty things. J.K. Rowling’s out of the box thinking always manages to teach the reader a valuable, moral lesson while keeping them entertained.
- The Story of Johnnie Blue and Cassidy Stay
How much better would life be if someone took time out of their day to show a random act of kindness towards us? Well, Rowling has made a habit out of it. A moment I will remember forever in my heart is the day I read a story of J.K. Rowling and a young man named Johnnie. Johnnie was continuously bullied at school and found solace in Rowling’s magical series. To thank her, he made a handcrafted notebook and a letter explaining his love for the world she had created. In return, she mailed him a letter expressing her gratitude and sorted him into Gryffindor for his bravery.
Along with the story of Johnnie Blue, there is the heart-wrenching tale of Cassidy Stay. Cassidy, a fifteen-year-old who lost her entire family in a horrifying attack, received a touching letter from Rowling. It was handwritten and from the perspective of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
- Her defense against the Dark Arts
In a world where people quickly cast blame on one another, it takes a brave soul to call one out on their mistakes. Rupert Murdoch sent a nasty tweet on January 10, 2015, blaming Muslims for their own “jihadist cancer” problem. Super Rowling responded: “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate.”
- The Harvard commencement speech
Failure, a subject we avoid altogether, was the basis of her commencement speech to Harvard graduates in 2008. She spoke on how failure was her greatest teacher and how if she hadn’t failed as much as she did, she would not be where she is today. In her usual charitable mindset, she stated:
“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.”
I highly recommend watching her entire speech; it will feel better than warm Butterbeer on a winter morning.
- She’s a feminist
The word feminist has been deemed a “dirty” word by some who don’t understand it. Rowling, of course being the flawless activist she is, stated her opinion on feminism and how a journalist was the deciding factor for her.
“Very early on in writing the series, I remember a female journalist saying to me that Mrs. Weasley, ‘Well, you know, she’s just a mother.’ And I was absolutely incensed by that comment. Now, I consider myself to be a feminist, and I’d always wanted to show that just because a woman has made a choice, a free choice to say, ‘Well, I’m going to raise my family and that’s going to be my choice. I may go back to a career, I may have a career part time, but that’s my choice.’ It doesn’t mean that that’s all she can do. And as we proved there in that little battle, Molly Weasley comes out and proves herself the equal of any warrior on that battlefield.”
Women are shunned for either being mothers or not being mothers, J.K. Rowling nails it with one simple word: choice. It is her choice, plain and simple, whether or not she is a mother. Emma Watson, a He for She ambassador, and the actress who played Hermione Granger, has received ample support and praise from Rowling for her efforts in the feminist movement. Basically, J.K. Rowling owns the definition of forward-thinking.
- J.K. Rowling doesn’t judge
And by this, I mean she does not judge one off of their skin colour, religion, or background. She has stated several times she visualised children from every religion and sexual orientation at Hogwarts. On Twitter, she clarified Dumbledore’s sexuality and said that a Ravenclaw student was Jewish. She viewed each of the students equally and of course, all with their own sense of magic. I think we can all take a page from J.K. Rowling’s life handbook and be a little more like her ethereal, otherworldly moral character.