Image source: Emma Watson on Facebook. Life has gotten a little more magical for Noma Dumezweni. The Swaziland born actress is currently stunning audiences in the role of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The play, which is currently running in the West End, is the latest installment in the Harry Potter fantasy series. This story, written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione more than two decades after the last book as they navigate parenthood, working lives, and an impending disaster.
Dumezweni was a controversial casting choice for the role, considering that Emma Watson, the talented child actress who portrayed Hermione in the films, is white. However, many fans and even author J.K. Rowling herself have defended the choice, noticing that Hermione’s skin color was never explicitly stated in the books. Really the only descriptions of her indicated that she had brown eyes, frizzy, curly hair, and she was smart as a whip. There’s really no reason that she couldn’t be portrayed by a talented brown, dark skinned actress like Dumezweni.
Now that the Harry Potter play has opened, the verdict is clear. Dumezweni was the perfect choice for the role and she is blowing it out of the water! The Olivier Award winner plays Hermione at a very difficult time in her life.
As the play opens, we learn that the quick-witted, strong-willed girl we knew at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry grew up to be the Minister for Magic, as well as a loving wife and mother. The Minister is comparable to the Prime Minister in our world. And here America thought they were progressive for being about to elect their first female president. The wizarding world has had a black, female Minister for years!
As Minister, Hermione has to deal with various magical crises as well as the mysterious movements of several hordes of magical creatures. She has a powerful role in this story and Dumezweni plays it with elegance and warmth.
Reviews of her performance have practically been unanimous. The Guardian raves “In a uniformly strong cast, Noma Dumezweni is a powerful Hermione.” The Standard declares her to be “inspiring.”
Dumezweni didn’t let any of the controversy get to her when her casting was announced. In fact, playing Hermione has been a dream for a long time. She is in love with the character. “I loved her when I read the books.” She told The Guardian last February. “I’m an old reader, not one of the 13-year-olds who’s grown into their twenties. I didn’t grow up with these three from childhood, but I remember meeting them and going: ‘These guys are great.’ She’s great. She’s great, she’s great, she’s great.” She, being Hermione, the brilliant Muggle-born witch that Dumezweni brings to life every night at the Palace Theatre.
Dumezweni says of her character “She’s the one who says: ‘You can do better. You’ve got to own up to yourself.’ I’ve got to be careful how I say this, but we all aspire to be Hermione. She’s struggled, but she holds it all together.” That love clearly shines through every moment she is onstage. It’s a long wait to get tickets, but if get a chance, definitely don’t miss this star making performance.