J.K. Rowling Criticizes Those Who Disapprove of a Black Hermione
J.K. Rowling has again spoken out in support of Noma Dumezweni’s casting as Hermione in the hotly anticipated new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. She revealed her frustration at online reaction by a “bunch of racists” who vocalized their disapproval of a black actress playing the character. In an interview with the Observer, Rowling says,
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.
While the vast majority of fans reacted positively to the colorblind casting, Rowling said,
I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – […] 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.
Dumezweni was cast by the play’s director John Tiffany, who also revealed he was taken aback by the online backlash but had stopped reading the comments.
I am not as Twitter-familiar as Jo and Jack, so I hadn’t encountered its dark side, which is just awful. But what shocked me was the way people couldn’t visualise a non-white person as the hero of a story. It’s therefore brilliant that this has happened.
Rowling, who took to Twitter to defend the casting back in December when it was first announced, has said that there is no reason why a black actress could not take on the role since the books do not explicitly state her skin color.
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
In the interview, which you can read in full here, Rowling also speaks of her fondness for the wizarding world and why it will never leave her.
It was 17 years, and just because I’ve stopped on the page doesn’t mean my imagination stopped. It’s like running a very long race. You can’t just stop dead at the finishing line. I had some material and some ideas and themes, and we three [she nods at Tiffany and Thorne] made a story.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins previews tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7, at the Palace Theatre in London. The play’s text will be released in bookstores worldwide on July 31. Are you excited to see Noma’s take on Hermione? What do you make of Jo’s comments on the casting? Let us know in the comments below.