Hey everyone! If you’ve been keeping up with my Top Ten Tuesday posts then you would have seen that one of my bookish resolutions this year was to start doing discussion posts on this blog, as I have always enjoyed reading other people’s discussion posts and wanted to try my hand at writing my own and thus my new feature Jo Talks Books was born. I will be posting at least twice a month, possibly more if I have a lot of ideas I want to talk about in a particular month. For my first topic, I decided to talk about something that has been quite big in the news recently, the casting of a black actress to play the adult Hermione Granger in the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I would like to say that I don’t mean to offend with this post, these are just my opinions.
I have to admit that I was a little taken aback at first when I heard who had been cast as Hermione in the play, simply because I’m part of the Harry Potter generation, I grew up with it and because of that Hermione Granger and Emma Watson are intrinsically linked in my mind, Emma Watson is Hermione for me, so obviously, Noma Dumezweni is not quite who I’d picture as the adult version of Hermione. I’ve always pictured Hermione as white, I guess because I always really related to Hermione, she reminded me a lot of me, so it’s natural that I pictured her with the same colour skin as I have. Does this mean that she can’t be of a different race in the play? Of course not. I mean the actors who are playing Harry and Ron in the play don’t exactly look much like Harry and Ron are described in the books, but you don’t hear everyone complaining about that do you? The joy of reading books is that different people can imagine different characters in their own way and I’m sure that one person’s version of Hermione would be different from someone else’s (though I imagine that since the movies have come out, most people picture Emma Watson as Hermione) so I am sure there are plenty of people who have pictured Hermione as black, after all her race is never outright stated in the books. We all just assume we know Hermione’s race because of our own cultural expectations and the picture that we were presented in the movies. Plus it seems a little stupid for people to object to the actress playing Hermione being black when prejudice is one of the main themes in the Harry Potter series.
I have to admit I’d never heard of Noma Dumezweni before she was cast, but apparently she’s a very good actress and if she was given the part she must have been considered the best person for it, so doesn’t that matter far more than the way she looks? After all, there are plenty of characters in movies who are played by actors that don’t necessarily fit the description of the character in the book but as long as they play the character in a way that’s true to how they are written in the book, does it really matter that their appearance doesn’t match? For example Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t really match the appearance of Katniss given in The Hunger Games book, but she played the character really well, so the fact that her appearance didn’t match, doesn’t really matter. The same I’m sure is true here. This is simply another interpretation of the character and as long as the traits that we know and love the character for remain in the play, it really doesn’t matter what the actress who plays her looks like. Plus the most important thing is that JK Rowling as the author approves of the direction her characters are taken in with this play and she has clearly stated that she approves of the casting of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione.
What do you think? Do you think that we (rightly or wrongly) always assume that if a character’s race is not stated then they are white? Do you think the play’s canon should match the film’s canon or should they be treated as completely different entities? What would your interpretation of Hermione’s race be? Let’s discuss, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!