Meet Harry Potter's 'Black Hermione'

By AFP
Published: December 22, 2015
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JK Rowling praised the casting of a black actress to play Hermione Granger in a London play based on the saga.

JK Rowling praised the casting of a black actress to play Hermione Granger in a London play based on the saga.

LONDON: Harry Potter creator JK Rowling on Monday praised the casting of a black actress to play the wizard’s sidekick Hermione Granger in a London play based on the saga.

Producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is set to open in June, announced Monday that Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni would play the role made famous by Emma Watson in the film series.

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Creator Rowling gave her seal of approval in a tweet, writing: “brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.”

However, some Twitter users pointed out lines from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, in which the character’s “white face was sticking out from behind a tree.”

On MuggleNet.com, the most popular Harry Potter fansite, Booth Love wrote: “As a ‘fan of colour’ I see myself reflected plenty in the HP characters, thanks very much”.

“We don’t need silly little ‘concessions’ that draw attention to matters of race in literature and entertainment.” Others were unimpressed by the race debate.

“People crying about Hermione’s skin colour within a fictional universe where people ride brooms to defy gravity. Stay mad,” said Andrien Gbinigie.

News picked up like wildfire and fans immediately took to Twitter to express their views on the matter:

Dumezweni won a prestigious Olivier Award, which recognise the stars of London theatre, for her role in the play A Raisin in the Sun. She has also appeared in British TV shows Shameless, Doctor Who and Eastenders.

The West End show is written by English screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne and will be produced with Rowling’s collaboration.

The play is set 19 years after the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — the seventh and final novel of the series — with Harry working for the Ministry of Magic, the government of Britain’s Magical community in the saga.

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“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children,” said the play’s synopsis.

“As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Harry Potter is one of the biggest global publishing successes, with more than 450 million copies sold. The film versions have also broken records, taking in seven billion dollars at the box office.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Fred
    Dec 23, 2015 - 7:23AM

    While I admire her motives, Ms. Rowling is being disingenuous.

    In 1999, she did a personal sketch of the characters, which you can see here: http://holykaw.alltop.com/harry-potter-characters-drawn-by-jk-rowling-i

    It is obvious from her drawing that Hermione was intended to be a white character. And the fact that a white actress was hired to portray the character in the films, with Ms. Rowling’s approval, underscores that obvious fact.

    While I welcome the introduction of new characters of any color, it seems to stretch credibility (and common sense) to radically change the race of a well-known and established character.Recommend

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