Noma Dumezweni has kept a dignified silence on the criticism that followed her being cast as Hermione Granger in new Harry Potter stage play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. Much opinion has been voiced that it is somehow ‘wrong’ for a black actor to portray a role previously inhabited by someone whose skin was white. Such prejudiced comments clearly don’t belong in our society today and now Dumezweni has has felt the need to respond to them:
It 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.
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.
That’s a classy statement but then Dumezweni is a classy lady. A highly acclaimed Shakespearean actor, she also backs the Multicultural Shakespeare Project which aims to celebrate forgotten performances of the Bard by ethnic minority actors due to the still-present glass ceiling that exists in the industry. She also talked about that whilst she had encountered “unconscious” bias before, this is the first time she has met such prejudice against her taking a role simply on the basis of the color of her skin.
Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling has already given her support to Dumezweni tweeting:
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
Emma Watson, who played the character in the films, has voiced similar fervent support. Noma will be joined in the production by Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley respectively.
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, a story spread out over two separate plays, will arrive in London’s Palace Theatre in July, and will follow the adventures of of Harry and Ginny Weasley’s youngest son, Albus.