Harry Potter… will you ever stop being the main source of my writing?
Anyway, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, an upcoming play in London, has Hermione Granger’s character being played by actress Noma Dumezweni.
Dumezweni is black and that’s apparently a problem for some people. The basic reasoning of some fans never saw Hermione as black, so they don’t think Dumezweni is a good fit for the role. Author of the series J.K. Rowling and film series actress Emma Watson have praised the casting decision.
And I think she’s all right too and why not cast a black actress as Hermione? I mean, anyone can do a cosplay of Hermione if they want to no matter the colour of your skin, so why can’t a professional actress do an even more amazing job acting as the character on stage?
People on the Internet will be people on the Internet, so there’s not much you can do about them. You can, however, cite precedent to show that new interpretations on a character’s race can be really good.
I didn’t know Yasiin Bey, also known by his stage name Mos Def, was one of my favourite actors until I watched him play Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In the original radio play and in the original book, Prefect is described as not conspicuously tall with a broad smile and wiry gingerish hair that’s brushed back from the temples.
Mos Def certainly doesn’t have gingerish hair, but neither does Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, have blonde hair. And aside from that minor physical description, Mos Def fit into the role really well. He even managed to get in a few Betelgeusian battle hymn in the form of strange yelping sound he made.
He also interpreted the role better than David Dixon who played Ford in the 1980s televised version of the radio play and novel. Dixon’s over acting got in the way of the strange alien wisdom Prefect is supposed to possess. He acts a bit more like Tim Curry in The Rocky Picture Horror Show, super high energy and kinda strange, rather than an actual hitchhiker i.e. someone who simply goes with the flow.
Mos Def was a great fit for the role and him being black has nothing to do with the character nor did it really add or detract from his nearly-Prefect portrayal. He had to go through a casting call and auditions like everyone else, and he was chosen as the best Ford to fit the role.
So why is there such a hullaballoo over Hermione Granger?
I’m actually asking, so if you know why it’s ok for Mos Def to play Ford Prefect and why it’s not ok for Noma Dumezweni to play Hermione Granger based purely on their acting abilities, please let me know.