J.K. Rowling takes aim at racist critics of black Hermione in Harry Potter play

Harry Potter and The Cursed ChildIf a real life spell existed to silence select individuals, chances are J.K. Rowling would be casting it right about now.

The Harry Potter author has come forward to defend a black actress named to the role of Hermione Granger in an upcoming play.

When it was revealed that Swaziland-born, Olivier Award-winning British actress Noma Dumezweni would portray Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, some fans of the franchise were vocal about their disdain for the choice. The casting call to have a black woman play the crafty witch Emma Watson, a white actress, had given life to in the films was not well received across the board.

In an interview with The Observer, J.K. said, “I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ — that is, lost color from her face after a shock — that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with. But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”

She added, “With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot. But what can you say? That’s the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.”

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is set 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K.’s last published book in the series. It unfolds as Harry Potter, now a father of three, struggles as an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic and fights to keep his past where it belongs. His youngest son Albus encounters difficulties of his own as he carries the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.

The production begins previewing at London’s Palace Theatre on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 and officially opens on July 30, 2016.

J.K. first came to the defense of Noma’s casting in December, when she sent out the below Tweet.

Do you think the decision to cast a black actress in the role of Hermione is as controversial as it’s become? Share your thoughts with us!

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Gwen Collins • June 6, 2016 @ 1:58 PM

    If the show “Annie” can be done using people of colour, why can’t Hermione be someone of colour? Open your eyes a little wider people. We are in the 21st century and I should hope that the colour of one’s skin shouldn’t be of any great consequence! Shame on those of you against this. Wish the play was being done here as I would definitely go see it.

  2. chris75 • June 6, 2016 @ 2:17 PM

    “I thought that idiots were going to idiot.” And this broad’s a WRITER?!?

  3. Jacob • June 6, 2016 @ 2:46 PM

    LOL “idiots gonna idiot”. My new bumper sticker.

  4. moviesteve • June 6, 2016 @ 3:17 PM

    I agree, Gwen. If she can act, let her fill Emma Watson’s shoes. Why wouldn’t we expand the parameters?!

  5. wherefore • June 6, 2016 @ 11:52 PM

    If the situation were reversed and a black character were being played by a white actress, there would be screams of foul play against the evil decision makers, and kudos for the people who decried it. But when a black actor takes over a white role, suddenly the critics who decry that are the idiots, and the people who made the decision are saints.

  6. thelongbottom • June 7, 2016 @ 4:19 AM

    First of all if I was a racist this IS the side I would take,but race aside I see it as purely inconsistent. There is no doubt in my mind that this actress is up to the task, but the fact of the matter is that from movies 1-8 Hermione was played by Emma Watson and Emma Watson is white. Now I understand that this next movie is supposed to be like 19 years later or something and so they can’t cast the same actors as before, so you think that they’d choose new actors who resemble the old ones,which they do mostly,but not for Hermione. While its true that J.K Rowling never specified race in her novels,we have gotten to know very well what Hermione looks like and seen her grow up as such.Look I grew up watching the harry potter series and loved it,I was happy with the way it ended same with star wars and now there’s gonna be another one which will already not be as good as the others [as most movies are in these situations] but now a character is being changed after 8 whole movies I mean like hey while were at it, tall people scare me, and not alot of tall people tried out for hagrid, let’s make hagrid regular size,and you know what I really liked dobby lets unkill him he can live with harrys family.Look the whole annie thing is absolutely fine but that was just one movie this was 8 movies where the character has been a certain way. I’m all for more black characters but not at the cost of changing a bunch of other ones.From my perspective this isn’t offensive or “bigoted” but when I’m watching the new movies and I see Hermione I’m gonna be thinking, that’s not Hermione.

  7. The Lurk • June 7, 2016 @ 7:48 PM

    @ thelongbottem

    This casting choice is in regards to a play that features none of the same actors, isn’t in the same medium (meaning isn’t a film or part of the film series) seems to be a continuation of the books rather than the films and is set 19 years later where the character is in a very different place in their lives.

    Your argument is understandable and you have valid points but it is irrelevant to this situation.

    If this were a continuation of the films I could understand being miffed, however it still wouldn’t be egregious in my mind to change the ethnicity of the actor if the actor is better able to convey the part. There are styles of film and theatre where this is often done, many different people play the same part even though they do not look alike or are not of the same ethnicity or gender. It can be confusing when you don’t know what’s going on but if done for a purpose it can be very effective in showing the different parts of a person. Emma Watson was the best choice for portraying Hermione as a young woman, it seems that Noma Dumezweni is thought to be the best to portray her as an adult.

  8. Snepts • June 10, 2016 @ 4:37 AM

    If Rowling intended the character to be black, why make her white in the first place??? People are taking political correctness to ridiculous extremes — an actress will bring Captain Marvel to the screen, and he’s a dude! That’s some heavy duty SHAZAM! right there!

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