Ever since world-renowned author J.K. Rowling completed her seven-book Harry Potter series back in 2007, the saga of the boy wizard has been anything but laid to rest. With eight films, several amusement parks and the upcoming Eddie Redmayne-led prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it seems that Harry Potter is as relevant as ever.
So continuously in demand is the Chosen One’s layered and enchanting universe that Rowling recently announced plans for a continuation of the Harry Potter canon with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The two-part story, set 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be delivered as a stage play, with only the script available in published form. The play has been the subject of some controversy ever since the role of Hermione Granger went to Noma Dumezweni -- a black actress.
As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child prepares for its initial London preview run on June 7, Variety has highlighted some of Rowling’s recent comments from an interview with The Observer, in which the author took on the issue of Hermione’s race and those who would dispute it. After stating that her past experience with social media has taught her that “idiots are going to idiot,” Rowling went on to say the following regarding the casting decision:
“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. 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.”
Following last year’s casting announcements for the play, Rowling originally stated that Hermione’s race had never been defined in any of the books, without saying much more on the issue other than the fact that she “loved” the idea of Hermione not being white. Her recent comments mark the first time that she has spoken out directly against those detractors who take issue with a black actress cast as the character. Beyond the above statements, Rowling also said that, “Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.”
The general hubbub that has surrounded this decision has been nothing short of ridiculous, especially when one considers that these are after all, Rowling’s characters and her decision to do what she wishes with them is entirely her own. Fans have certainly invested time and emotion in experiencing the world of Harry Potter, but insisting on a character’s race when it hasn’t been defined is as silly as insisting on the character’s day to day thoughts or opinions.
With tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child rapidly selling out, it doesn’t appear that too many people really have a problem with the race of one of the series' most beloved characters. That fact alone should be enough proof that when it comes to the Harry Potter universe, fans are concerned first and foremost with the story being told, the personalities of the characters who live the adventure and the joy the journey brings.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will preview at The Palace Theatre, London, on June 7, before officially opening on July 30. The book of the script will be released on July 31st.