J.K. Rowling Slams ‘Bunch of Racists’ Attacking Black Hermione Casting

J.K. Rowling Black Hermione
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

J.K. Rowling has given her “absolute blessing” to a black actress playing Hermione in London stage productionHarry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and slammed those who criticized the casting in a new interview.

The “Harry Potter” author praised Olivier-winning British thesp Noma Dumezweni as the “best actress for the job,” and said her prior experience with social media led her to believe that “idiots were going to idiot” over the casting.

“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,” she told the Observer in an article published this weekend.  “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.”

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When the casting was first announced last year, Rowling affirmed that she never defined Hermione’s race in the books, and said she “loved” the idea of a non-white actress filling the scholarly character’s shoes. Emma Watson played Hermione in the eight Harry Potter films from 2001 to 2011.

In the same article, director John Tiffany says he was “shocked [that] people couldn’t visualise a non-white person as the hero of a story.”

The two-part production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” begins previewing at the London’s Palace Theatre on Tuesday.

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  1. DougW says:

    Artwork is part of a book, and on the covers of the Harry Potter books, Hermoine is Caucasian.

  2. Shandy says:

    Nothing wrong with having different-looking stage actors cast…it’s a different animal than film, and one hopes they capture these characters as well as possible both physically and personality-wise/spiritually/mentally, of course…all the same, one does non-racistly wonder why they seem to have tried to keep the appearances consistent with the text and films except for Hermione & her daughter. This actress, who I’m sure is fantastic, truly captured the character better than any other? Okay. This is just the first cast to perform this play; they could be played by nearly anyone. The talent, stage presence, ability to perform the entire show however many times they’ll be required…that’s more important than physical perfection.

    It is true that JKR had doodled Hermione as a white girl early on, and that if she were not white, her race would’ve been mentioned, considering that other non-white students with far tinier roles were identified as such. So slamming Noma is wrong, but simply wondering why the casting includes this one marked inconsistency is not racist. People would’ve immediately asked “Why is Hermione white?” if it were the other way around (and in that case–had she been played by a black actress in the films–they’d have definitely been accused of whitewashing, stealing an opportunity from a black actress.)

  3. ric says:

    Internet is filled with ignorant people!! They will get over it and who gives a damn if they don’t..

  4. newtemplar says:

    I don’t recall Ms. Rowling complaining over nor declining film royalties to date, so she really no longer owns the characters she created. These belong the fans now, and they are telling her what they think. Sometimes change is indeed unwarranted, if only to sensationalize an otherwise played story line.

  5. sageitzat says:

    Joanne knows Hermione is white. All writers know what their characters look like. Reading the description of Hermione, I thought she was biracial (half-black/half-white). Nonetheless, I feel Rowling handled this incorrectly. Instead of lying and saying Hermione didn’t have a race, she should have just said, while she imagined Hermione as a white girl, she has no problem with the new interpretation of the character in the play.

    • “Instead of lying and saying Hermione didn’t have a race, she should have just said, while she imagined Hermione as a white girl, she has no problem with the new interpretation of the character in the play.” You hit the nail on the head here. I have no problem with a black actress playing Hermione. Color-blind casting is a common practice in the theatre. As a Harry Potter fan, I have a problem with JK Rowling going against established cannon. She can’t deny that Hermione was written as white in the books. For goodness sake, she’s given interviews about diversity in the Potter world and why she chose to write Harry, Ron, and Hermione as white. Now that shouldn’t limit who can portray any of Rowling’s characters on the stage, but Rowling also can’t try to claim credit for something she didn’t write into her books. That’s disingenuous.

  6. Sexracist says:

    It’s Harry Potter crap…. who gives a damn?

    But try an all-white cast in Porgy and Bess and see what happens

  7. ss says:

    Hollywood blackwashes white characters all the time same with whitewashing personally i dont like it either way i wouldnt go see a white actor play Blade and i wouldnt go see a black actor blay Hermione. It is a massive double standard however when marvel blackwash heimdal and whitewash an asian martial artist in their movies yet the whitewashing casting is critised and the blackwashed role is appluaded especially when heimdall belongs to a completly white religion…

    The problem here was that JK Rowling claimed she never gave the character a race yet at every chance in the book described her as white, pink, pale and often in the same descriptions as the ron and ginny weasley who are ginger and clearly white.

  8. Ahsoka23 says:

    Good on JK for slamming these racist idiots.

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