In July J.K. Rowlings highly anticipated play and sequel to her “Harry Potter” – saga “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” premiers in London and is already one of the most discussed theatre plays of all time. And why? Because Hermione Granger, so far portrayed by Emma Watson, will be portrayed this time by South African actress Noma Dunezweni.
A black Hermione? Can that be? According to J.K. Rowling it’s no problem, since Hermione is described in the book having brown eyes and bushy hair. No mentioning of white skin or black skin. However, since Emma Watson, who is fairly white, has been cast to play Hermione in the movies and J.K. Rowling, who was very involved in the casting (Harry Potter had to be British), didn’t object, one can assume that she imagined Hermione as white.
But now we have a black Hermione. Some fans are not happy with that choice and were called by J.K. Rowling racists. I am not sure, if that is fair. Maybe the same people would have been upset if a blond, blue-eyed Hermione would have been cast.
I understand that people create an imagine of a book character in their head and if a certain feature gets mentioned a lot in the book, like he had very green eyes, one can get disappointed if the real life version doesn’t look like that and maybe has brown eyes.
The characters in “Harry Potter” get described in details and the readers get a perfect idea of what they look like. I remember watching the first movie and being amazed that Snape, Dumbledore and McGonagall looked exactly how I imagined them. On the other hand Emma Watson was missing a distinctive feature of Hermione that plays an important part in the books and in her character. Her distinctive front teeth. I don’t remember anyone making a big deal out of that. Well, that was also in 2001 and before everybody had to comment everything on the Internet.
But what are the really important character traits? We all know that looks don’t define a character. At least not totally. If someone is described as sporty and has a fit body, you would take something away from that character, if you cast an overweight person.
So what defines Hermione Granger? She has bushy hair, brown eyes, distinctive front teeth, but above all she is smart. She is a bookworm. She is driven. She is a straight-A student. She is bad at Quidditch. She is a know-it-all. She is brave. She is kind. She is witty. That defines her and that is why she becomes a Gryffindor. The Sorting Hat doesn’t put people into the different houses according to their looks or skin colour. He sorts them according to their character.
So, yes, a black Hermione is not what we imagined, but I don’t care, if they cast a white, black or purple Hermione as long as she is still that intelligent, determined woman, who fights for the rights of House Elves.