Color blind casting, or non-traditional casting, has opened up opportunities for Black actors, albeit slowly. There have been many Black actors who played white characters, but there’s still room for more diversity in Hollywood overall.
White characters played by Black actors have paid off at the box office because audiences appreciate an excellent performance - regardless of race. While many fans reacted negatively the casting of Black actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, others were excited that such an accomplished actress was stepping into the role. Even Potter creator J.K. Rowling defended the casting choice.
In many cases, Black actors who have taken on white roles have changed the way a character was seen forever. Red has been portrayed as Black ever since Morgan Freeman played the part in the film adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption. We will always think of Agent J in Men in Black as Will Smith. Michael Clarke Duncan was so perfect for The Kingpin in Daredevil, that Marvel wrote a tribute to the actor when he passed.
This list looks at some of the top Black actors who played traditionally white characters.
Zendaya Coleman as Mary Jane Watson
Noma Dumezweni as Hermione GrangerPhoto: Warner Bros. & Movie Pilot
- Photo: Columbia Pictures