The Harry Potter Sequel Announced Its Cast, And The Internet Is Freaking Out Because Hermione Is Black
The world is finally getting the Harry Potter sequel it has wanted since turning the final page on the epilogue of the last book. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play opening in London next summer. It will follow up where Harry Potter left off, with Harry, Ron and Hermione as full-grown adults with kids and jobs. The play is about Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus Potter, who is having some difficulties being a young teenager and adjusting to life at Hogwarts as the son of Harry-freaking-Potter, which one imagines would be pretty difficult.
But what has exploded the Internet this morning was an announcement on Pottermore that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been cast:
— Harry Potter Play (@HPPlayLDN) December 21, 2015
The announcement was made on Pottermore and started with a glowing recommendation from J.K. Rowling herself, but still some people are blowing their caps because Hermione is black. As NYmag and Rowling herself point out, Hermione’s race is never explicitly laid out in the books. She has curly dark hair and brown eyes, and is very smart, but Rowling does not specify Hermione’s skin color. (Hermione’s mother is described as a pale brunette, but that means basically nothing because her father is also unspecified.)
As far as I’m concerned, this is pretty great. Hermione’s race was never established in the books, and according to Rowling herself there is no reason Hermione cannot be black. She’s also devastatingly intelligent and brave, and a major part of her character is fighting for the rights of marginalized and disenfranchised groups. She’s an excellent role model for anyone.
Hermione was played by Emma Watson in the movies, and Emma Watson is white, but that’s OK. It just means that Hermione in the movies is not played by the same actress who is starring in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The trio weren’t going to be played by Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe anyway, so the characters were never going to look like they did in the movies. People every day go to see Les Miserables on stage and do not freak out that Jean Valjean does not look like Russell Crowe. All is good. Emma Watson was wonderful! And Noma Dumezweni surely will be as well. She won an Olivier award in 2006 and just replaced Kim Catrall in Linda in London. The Harry Potter producers likely had their choice of stars for this show, and they picked the best actress they could find.
Still, some fans were upset and said that casting a black actress was “just wrong” and that Hermione absolutely had to be white. BU tJ.K. Rowling herself stepped in on Twitter to specify that she had never specified Hermione’s race in the Harry Potter books, and that she was totally and completely in favor of a black actress playing Hermione.
As far as Harry Potter is concerned, I think that means God has spoken and all other arguments are invalid.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will run in two parts at the Palace Theater in London starting next summer. The cast was only just announced, and the first round is already sold out. If there’s anything worth getting upset about, it’s that! How are the rest of us ever going to get to see it? First Hamilton, now Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life reading on the Internet about plays I cannot see in real life? Am I the cursed child? Well, unless I can get tickets I will just have to continue to hold out hope that someone will successfully drive a dump truck full of money to J.K. Rowling’s castle and convince her to let this be made into a movie so the rest of us will get to see it too.