Laurence Olivier Awards - Awards

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#Hermione has been trending on Twitter today after it was announced that Noma Dumezweni, a Black actress, was cast as Hermione Granger in a new Harry Potter play.

Entitled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the play is written by Jack Thorne and the author of the original book series, J.K. Rowling. The play depicts the main characters of Harry, Hermione and Ron, as all grown-up and working at the Ministry of Magic. The show doesn’t open until the summer of 2016 but it’s already the fastest selling production in West End history.

The cast was announced last night; alongside Dumezweni will be Jamie Parker as Harry Potter and Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley.

J.K. Rowling has come out expressing her enthusiasm for Dumezweni being cast, insisting that she never explicitly wrote Hermione as being White.

https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/678888094339366914

Dumezweni spoke out on Twitter last night about her excitement for the casting decision and the attention she’s been getting since the news broke as well, saying:

https://twitter.com/MissDumezweni/status/678718013693165568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

However, there were of course trolls who came out of the woodworks spewing racist comments and discontent that Hermione was being cast as a Black woman.

https://twitter.com/Nero/status/678989688368201729

Still, supporters of all colors came out in droves to express their enthusiasm for Dumezweni being cast in the role.

https://twitter.com/TheCosby/status/678976481272463360

I was never a Harry Potter fan growing up (I never quite get into the fantasy genre for reasons that I still don’t understand) but I have to admit that this is pretty friggin’ cool. I don’t buy into the idea that J.K. Rowling didn’t originally imagine Hermione as a White character when she was envisioning and writing her. However, like Blogger Kayleigh Anne from the Independent writes, it really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that this step from the production to cast a Black actress in a traditionally White role shows people that Whiteness isn’t and shouldn’t be the default race in interpreting and depicting the literary characters that we all know and love.

Still, I want to know: who is Noma Dumezweni? Where would we have seen her in all of her acting glory in the past? And how does this accomplishment stack up with the career moves she’s already blazed for herself in the past?

Here’s five fast facts I found on this fierce, history-making actress that you should know:

1. She Was Born In Swaziland

Dumezweni has been kicking ass and taking names since she was born in 1969 in the small South African country. Her parents are South African and she moved to England as a young child.

2. She’s An Award-winning Actress

Dumezweni won an Olivier Award for her role as Ruth Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun” in 2005. The Olivier is one of England’s most coveted awards for actors since it was introduced in 1976 at the Society of West End Theatre Awards.

3. She Snatched (& Shined In) Kim Cattrall’s Lead Role In ‘Linda’

Dumezweni got the gig only weeks before the show opened for audiences, as Cattrall cancelled at the last minute. Still, critics say that Dumezweni gave a “knockout” performance that seemingly made audiences indifferent to the fact that Cattrall was originally up for the part. The play, written by Penelope Skinner and directed by Michael Longhurst, follows a middle-aged woman who is now at the height of her career and is re-entering the dating world after years of being a doting wife and mother.

4. She’s Done Numerous Shakespeare Roles Over The Years

Throughout the late nineties and early-to-mid 2000s, Dumezweni played Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Charmian in “Antony and Cleopatra”, Ursula in “Much Ado About Nothing” and the First Witch in “Macbeth.”

5. She’s About To Be In The Director’s Chair, Too

Ms. Dumezweni isn’t just a talented actress; she’s about to flex her skills as a director for the first time in a 2016 production of “I See You” at the British Royal Court Theatre. The play, surrounding a South African student who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, opens up to audiences for a month-long run next February and March.

[SOURCE: The Daily Beast, The Guardian, Time]

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