J.K. Rowling Slams "Racists" Unhappy Black Actress Will Play Hermione in Harry Potter Play

The production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, opens in previews this week

By Corinne Heller Jun 05, 2016 3:23 PMTags
JK Rowling, Noma DumezweniCindy Ord/Getty Images, Dan Wooller/REX Shutterstock

J.K. Rowling is over "racists" criticizing the choice to cast a black actress to play Hermione Granger in an upcoming Harry Potter play.

The production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is set 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling's last published book in the series. Noma Dumezweni, a Swaziland-born, Olivier Award-winning British star, plays Hermione.

Since the play and its cast was announced, some fans have questioned why a black stage performer was chosen to portray the character, who is played by white actress Emma Watson in the movies. London and Broadway plays occasionally actors of different races taking on the same roles.

"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," Rowling told the U.K. newspaper The Observer in comments posted Sunday. "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."

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

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Rowling had also defended the casting of Hermione in December, tweeting, "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child focuses on Harry Potter as a father of three and an "overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic." He "grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs," while "his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted." Jamie Parker stars as Harry, Paul Thornley plays Ron Weasley, Poppy Miller plays Ron's sister Ginny Weasley and Alex Price plays their childhood adversary Draco Malfoy.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is set to open officially in July in London, with preview performances starting on July 7. A novelized version is set for release on July 31.

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