African actress will play Hermione Granger in new Harry Potter play

L-R Paul Thornley (Ron), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Jamie Parker (Harry) at the Palace Theatre.

Story highlights

  • Actress Noma Dumezweni will play the role of Hermione in a new Harry Potter play.
  • J.K. Rowling has defended the decision to cast a black woman in the role
  • 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is based on an original story, co-written by J.K. Rowling.

(CNN)A black actress will play Hermione in a new Harry Potter play.

Swaziland-born Noma Dumezweni will take the lead role in the much-anticipated stage production of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."
    She will play a middle-aged Hermione Granger, in a story set 19 years after the final book of the hugely successful Harry Potter franchise.
    Hermione has so far only been played on screen by Emma Watson.
    J.K. Rowling, author of the hugely successful Harry Potter series, has applauded the decision, adding that "white skin was never specified:"
    She has also retweeted fan art depicting Dumezweni in full witching regalia.
    Dumezweni, 45, was born in Swaziland from South African parents, and moved to England when she was a child. She also took to Twitter following the announcement:
    Actors from the film franchise, like Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, have also voiced their support for Dumezweni:
    Hermione's sidekicks, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, will be played by fellow muggles Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley.
    Rowling added: "I'm so excited with the choice of casting for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." I can't wait to see Jamie, Noma and Paul bring the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron to life on stage next summer."
    The play, which sold 175,000 ticket in the first 24 hours, will portray the trio as much older wizards and witches, with Harry being an "overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children," according to an outline of the play.
    Dumezweni has recently garnered favorable reviews for her role in "Linda" at London's Royal Court. She stepped in at the last minute following the withdrawal of Kim Cattrall, with only a week's preparation.
    In 2006, she won an Olivier award for her role in the 2006 production of "A raisin in the sun."
    In February she will make her directorial debut at the Royal Court Theatre, with "I See You," by South African playwright Mongiwekhaya.