in 2016 nancy drew won’t be white

Ahead of a new TV series, network bosses have confirmed they're "open to any ethnicity," but she won't be Caucasian.

by Wendy Syfret
13 January 2016, 4:15am

Emma Roberts in the 2007 movie version of the series. 

Ask anyone who grew up on teen detective series Nancy Drew to describe the title character and they'll probably say she's smart, brave, loyal, and seriously under-supervised. But when it comes to her physical appearance, the various ghost writers behind the series (writing as Carolyn Keene) always kept things pretty ambiguous.

This fact has become a central talking point in the lead up to CBS's new reimagining of the iconic character. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter this week, CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller commented that their take on Nancy will be "diverse". While he pointed out that it's never specified that Nancy is white, he didn't add any detail to what he actually means by "diverse". When pressed, he did say "[She will] not [be] Caucasian," and, "I'd be open to any ethnicity." 

For reference, in previous TV and movie adaptations, the character has been played by Bonita Granville, Roberta Shore, Pamela Sue Martin, and Emma Roberts—who all are white.

The announcement follows the decision at the end of last year to cast a black actress in the role of fellow adolescent literary hero, Hermione Granger. Noma Dumezweni, who was born in Swaziland to South African parents, will play Hermoine in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildJK Rowling has confirmed that the play is an official eighth story in the series, and wholeheartedly supported Noma's casting.

Before Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was in production, there had been speculation that Hermione was a woman of colour. Writers like Monika Kothari and Alanna Bennett have highlighted Hermione's mistreatment for being a Mudblood as an allegory for being bi-racial. Writing for website Quora, Monika comments, "The distinctions between pure-blood, half-blood, and muggle-born witches and wizards are basically racial." While Alanna compared these references to her own experiences, and wrote that she found comfort in the character's resilience when she herself faced racism at school. While Nancy race is never touched upon— beyond mentions of her "timeless" look (whatever that means), and reddish hair—it's exciting to learn she'll soon receive the same representation as Hermione. 

Whatever her background—like Hermione—Nancy has always been a much loved female icons who counts Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Barbra Streisand as admires. So whatever she looks like, it's safe to say she'll be totally baller. 


Text Wendy Syfret
Screengrab via YouTube

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Hermione Granger
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