The title says it all – the new play based off J.K. Rowling’s writings must be doomed!
I’m just kidding. Many of you know I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and when I heard about the makings of a new play featuring the Big HP’s kiddo I was ecstatic. Like sharing multiple statuses and videos on Facebook, Googling news articles, finding where the auditions were being held, and calling all my friends with tears streaming down my face kind of ecstatic. So when I heard that people were upset over the new (err, well, she’s old now) Hermione being black, I was crushed!
Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger, all grown up, in the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Dumezweni, as I have read, is a fabulous actress and was no doubt chosen for the part because of her superb acting abilities. Some Potterheads beg to differ, saying that Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movie series, should have been awarded the role. Other fans speak up about the break in character – young Hermione was white, so why should a black woman be playing the grown up witch? Another group of readers and watchers have vocalized the questions they’ve had about Hermione’s ethnicity since the beginning of the series, because the books don’t say anything about skin tone.
Growing up, I lived for the next Harry Potter book to be published. I went to as many midnight book openings as I could, as many opening nights as I could, and dressed as Ginny Weasly for Halloween on many an occasion. When I first read the books I didn’t think about race. I was six. Now that I’m older and looking back on the series I realize that people of color didn’t play main characters and weren’t as prevalent as Caucasians.
For the original movie, the three main roles were selected by open casting with the only real criterion being age and a British background. This is how we came to know and love Daniel, Rupert, and Emma. I would like to say that only their acting skills were the reason they were chosen for the parts they got, rather than how they looked. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”‘s main cast was recruited because of their acting capabilities. I would like to think that no one was chosen to play their role because of their race, and that no one was turned away from the role because of their race, in either cast.
What does J.K. have to say? Only this so far: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.” We love you too J.K.!
I think that if someone is more than capable of playing a role then they should get the role, no matter their ethnicity. It’s 2015, the color of someone’s skin shouldn’t be a barrier anymore. As for “The Cursed Child,” it’s a writer’s interpretation of the book series and the aftermath of Harry Potter, so a change in character shouldn’t disrupt a thing. If it does for you, then maybe you should reread the story to figure out what the series really stands for.