Any Harry Potter fans out there will certainly be familiar with the controversy surrounding the casting of English actress Noma Dumezweni in the upcoming West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The major issue fans have with her portraying Harry’s best gal pal, the clever, over-achieving Hermione Granger? The color of her skin.
Despite the fact both Emma Watson, who portrayed Hermione in the film series, and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have been very public in their support of this casting choice, Rowling going so far as to tweet that the only thing that was canon in regards to Hermione was “brown eyes, frizzy hair, very clever” and that her skin color was never specified, there are still fans out there who can’t handle a woman of color playing a character that they have come to see as white.
Dumezweni, who is certainly aware of the undue criticism she is faced with, has come forward with a perfect response to the naysayers. In an article published on Friday, she told the Evening Standard that their dislike for her, “…stems from ignorance. They don’t want to be a part of the creative act. To say it’s not as it was intended is so unimaginative. I don’t think they understand how theatre works. We’re here to heal you, make you smile and whisk you away.”
Indeed, historically theatre has been much more diverse and creative in its casting choices than say, Hollywood, which is still largely dominated by white men (thank you Force Awakens for breaking that mold). Dumezweni is an award-winning Shakespearean trained actress with an impressive body of work; one would think that should garner more attention that the fact that her skin is darker than another actress who played the same role.
Dumezweni herself said, “The only question we should ask is ‘Are they good?’ I’ve met great actors black and white and I’ve met bad actors black and white.”
Case and point. An actor’s performance is not determined by the color of their skin. The end. Brava Ms. Dumezweni. I only wish I were going to be in London in May when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is scheduled to open on the West End.