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Steam is rising in regards to J. K. Rowling’s upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child where the well known Hermoine Granger, who is widely associated as being a red-haired Caucasian girl played by Emma Watson in the film series, is now being played by Swaziland-born Noma Dumezweni.
Fans are struggling with the notion that Hermoine will be played by a black woman. Media is being swarmed by what can be perceived by many as racism towards Dumezweni. J. K. Rowling is angered by her fans narrow-mindedness and claims that nowhere in her books does it describe Hermoine’s skin color to the readers. It is true that when thinking of Hermoine Granger, an image of Emma Watson appears in your head, and one would assume that a sequel to the beloved series should feature someone of similar appearance. If Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was being made into an official feature film sequel to Harry Potter, then I, among many others, would be outraged. Having a character look completely unalike to what the viewer envisions them to appear takes you away from immersion in the film. However, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a feature film sequel and therefore fans of the series should remain open-minded, as J. K. Rowling is insisting.
Those of us who share an appreciation for theatre, the arts and literature know all too well that minor changes, such as what race a character is acted by in a film or play, happens all of the time. What about when the recent Annie film was released in 2014 and stared at black Annie played by Quvenzhane’ Wallis? The original Annie film released in 1982, which was based on the original comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, had the young child being acted by yet another white curly-haired redhead girl, Aileen Quinn. This is the same concept here with J. K. Rowling’s predicament, although I believe the issue with Annie should be greater than the issue with the Harry Potter play because Annie is a full length feature film, whereas Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is merely a play, made only for the stage. So why isn’t it? Simply because Harry Potter is a much bigger affair than any other theatre or film situation of similar events that I can list.
Should film, television and Broadway be dictated by minute discrepancies such as what colored skin a particular character is played by. Of course not. If the actor/actress has the acting skills to be better than any other auditioning actor, then why should they be disadvantaged because of the color of their skin? We live in the 21st century, color of skin should not be a dividing factor anymore and frankly, never should have.
What are your thoughts?
Featured image via Digital Spy.