Could Hermione Granger be black? Fans dicker with J.K. Rowling. (+video)
The cast list for the stage play 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is out, and it has some people very upset, while others say it's a step forward for the representation of diversity in media.
The cast list is out for the stage play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and it has some people very upset, while others are say it's a step forward for the representation of diversity in media.
The play is based on a J.K. Rowling short story about Harry Potter’s life as an adult, where he is employed by the Ministry of Magic. Harry will be played by Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley will play Ron, and Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione. It’s Ms. Dumezweni’s casting that has some people up in arms, because they don’t like the idea of a black actress playing Hermione.
Ms. Dumezweni was born in Swaziland to South African parents. She has starred on TV and in stage plays, and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her work as Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun.
Many angry fans of the books took to Twitter to contend that Hermione was white all along, and that this new casting would interfere with their feelings of continuity about the book and film series.
But Ms. Rowling explains that the casting choice doesn’t interfere with the Potter cannon in the least. “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione,” she wrote on Twitter.
In a separate statement, Rowling said, “I’m so excited with the choice of casting for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.’ I can’t wait to see Jamie, Noma and Paul bring the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron to life on stage next summer.”
Others were also delighted with the casting choice.
“Of course Hermione Granger’s black,” Stephen Bush wrote in an opinion piece for the English magazine New Statesman. “As a child, I had brown eyes, frizzy hair, [and] was brighter than most of my classmates ... I thought Hermione was black because she was the character I most closely identified with – I didn’t identify with her because I thought she was black.”
In the words of Jessie Thompson of Huffington Post UK: “They haven't cast a black Hermione, they've cast a Hermione. If you can't see that you're not looking properly."