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.
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.”
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
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:
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) December 21, 2015
hey @EmWatson I just wanna let you know that no matter what they change Hermione to you'll always be the one I fell in love with. ❤️
— Sky Williams (@SkyWilliams) December 22, 2015
all these guys complaining about Hermione. if only @jk_rowling had written a book showing the dangers of racial discrimination and prejudice
— Boze of Hollyton (@SketchesbyBoze) December 22, 2015
— Rev. Eric Atcheson (@RevEricAtcheson) December 22, 2015
I am so damn happy for the generation of kids who will get to see Hermione as a woman of color. https://t.co/LXtwfYlEbE
— Sabaa Tahir (@sabaatahir) December 21, 2015
— Logic Bored (@modernrarity) December 21, 2015
Wow…just peeped Hermione under the Trends list. Big mistake. These racists are unreal.
— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) December 21, 2015
— Lily Williams (@lwbean) December 21, 2015
Reminder of how they whitewashed this cast yet a black woman playing Hermoine is what people want to be upset about pic.twitter.com/5IGYgyYiRs
— ELECTRIC PUNANY (@creolemuva) December 21, 2015
these visions of Hermione r perfect and those who critic r so narrow minded. Grow up and stop being so superficial. pic.twitter.com/X1KKQcKTEb
— Queen ❂ (@Maryfique) December 21, 2015
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.
“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.