Swaziland-born, British-raised actress Noma Dumezweni spoke out against her critics for the first time since it was announced that she would play an adult Hermione in the upcoming West End production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, which will take place 19 years after the events of ‘The Deathly Hallows’.
Last month, when the news was initially announced, Harry Potter fans rejoiced at the casting of a Black Hermione (including J.K. Rowling herself). However, many expressed resistance to the idea.
not racist but how can noma dumezweni be hermione in the cursed child when she’s black it just isn’t right
— DAN (@daansymonds) January 3, 2016
Dumbledore isn’t gay in the books and Hermione isn’t black in the books & yet JK Rowling takes credit and ppl say she’s “progressive”, as if
— #WoCForAlaskaYoung (@WoC4AlaskaYoung) January 2, 2016
…in the new HP movie Hermione is black even though in the book it said she was white. This isn’t cultural appropriation in their terms?
— taylor gotto (@taylor_gotto) January 2, 2016
In an interview with The Evening Standard, Dumezweni said that she has encountered “unconscious” prejudice before, but she has never experienced backlash or resistance to her casting in a role simply because of her skin color.
She says, “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.”
She also adds, “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.”
Dumezweni is an acclaimed Shakespearean actress, and she has also put her support behind research as a part of the Multicultural Shakespeare project, to bring to light performances by ethnic minority actors in Shakespearean roles (because we must never forget Paul Robeson going to London to play Othello). However, she has opted out of moving to America to seek better work stating, “We have to hold on to the choice that it will get better here.”
‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ will arrive in London this July with Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley playing Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, respectively.