Leave it to J.K. Rowling to shut down the haters in the best, most badass way possible. In a recent interview with The Observer, the Harry Potter author — and co-writer of the new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — addressed the criticism she faced from some people for casting a black actor, Noma Dumezweni, in the role of Hermione, and her response is utter perfection.
"I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with," Rowling told The Observer. "But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”
By and large, the reaction to Dumezweni's casting was positive, with most Potter fans thrilled that a black actor had been cast in the role. Yet sadly, not everyone felt that way, and shortly after the criticism for Dumezweni being cast began rolling out, Rowling took to Twitter to tell fans that she was had no qualms about a black actor playing Hermione. Other Harry Potter figures, like Emma Watson and Matthew Lewis, spoke out in defense of Dumezweni as well, all of them showing support for a black Hermione and shutting down commenters upset by the casting decision.
Yet of course, there were still plenty of people unhappy with Dumezweni playing Hermione, and they didn't hesitate to make their opinions loud and clear. Speaking to The Observer, Rowling said that she expected the backlash to arrive. “With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot,” she said. “But what can you say? That’s the way the world is."
And, she added, "Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job." Hear that, haters? A talented actor whom Rowling felt fit the part of Hermione was chosen to play the character — shouldn't that be reason to celebrate Cursed Child's casting decision, not slam it? Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who can't fathom the idea of a black Hermione, but thankfully, it seems like there are many more people who support Dumezweni's casting and are excited to see an actor of color in the role. As Cursed Child director John Tiffany, who cast Dumezweni, told The Observer, there's even an upside to the backlash — it's making people re-assess how they view storytelling and imagine characters.
"What shocked me was the way people couldn’t visualise a non-white person as the hero of a story," said Tiffany. "It’s therefore brilliant that this has happened.”
Hopefully, seeing Dumezweni killing it on-stage as Hermione will silence any critics still left.