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‘Harry Potter’ sequel in London casts black actress as Hermione

Actress Noma Dumezweni, left, has been cast as the grown-up Hermione Granger in "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." The film version of Hermione (shown here in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2") was played by Emma Watson.

Actress Noma Dumezweni, left, has been cast as the grown-up Hermione Granger in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The film version of Hermione (shown here in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2") was played by Emma Watson.

(Associated Press; Warner Bros. )

The upcoming “Harry Potter” sequel that is set to open at the Palace Theatre in London next year has cast a black actress to play the role of the adult Hermione, a decision that author J.K. Rowling has defended on social media.

Producers of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” announced Monday that actress Noma Dumezweni will play the role of a grown-up Hermione, alongside actor Jamie Parker in the role of Harry.

The cast also includes Paul Thornley in the role of the adult Ron Weasley.

Dumezweni hails from Swaziland and has earned acclaim performing on the London stage, winning an Olivier Award for her role in a 2005 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.” She has also acted in productions from the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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The casting of a black actress as Hermione represents a departure from the cinematic adaptations of the “Harry Potter” novels, where the character was played by Emma Watson, who is white.

On Twitter, Rowling defended the casting choice, writing: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.”

Playwright Jack Thorne, who has penned the new play, wrote on Twitter, “Noma, Jamie & Paul will be the most brilliant three. We’re very lucky to have them. And to assure all doubters -- Paul is ginger in his soul.”

The stage production, which Rowling has stated is an official sequel to her novels, is a two-part tale that is scheduled to open in London in July.

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The story picks up when a middle-aged Harry Potter is an “overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children,” according to the Pottermore site.

It follows his youngest son, Albus, who “must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT

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