Harry Potter fans and Blerd gals rejoice!
If you’ve still been nursing major Harry Potter withdrawals, and have been on the hunt for a quirky, slice-of-life series in the vein of Chewing Gum, then look no further: Hermione Granger And The Quarter-Life Crisis is sure to be your latest fandom obsession.
Since its premiere on the interwebs in January 2017, Hermione Granger And The Quarter Life crisis has made waves with its unique, wildly creative portrayal of titular character Hermione Granger, and several other beloved Harry Potter favorites.
What’s made Hermione Granger And The Quarter Life Crisis so beloved and acclaimed is its unabashed exploration of Hermione Granger, both as a reimagined woman of color, and a twenty-something struggling through the trials and tribulations of young adult years. It’s incredibly poignant, humorous, and relatable. And to black women especially, it offers a wonderful coming of age tale that is both deeply resonant—and incredibly fun and light.
A few months ago Quirktastic got the awesome opportunity to sit down with creator Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael to talk about her hit web series, and her artistic journey as a quirky woman of color creator. Check out the exclusive interview below!
1.Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m from the southside of Chicago, and I think of myself as a creative person that is also a fangirl! Growing up, I always had a bookbag full of books, and I’m still obsessed with books and reading and all sorts of nerdy stuff.
There’s certain people who I think when they think about who I am, they see me as a very passionate and creative person. And there’s some truth in that for sure: my intelligence is rooted in creativity, and now especially as a creator, I see my creativity as this perfect marriage of all the pieces of who I am: fangirlish, obsessed with black women, and creativity. That’s it, essentially!
2. Tell us about Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis! What was your inspiration behind this version of Hermione Granger?
What inspired the series is fanfiction. I’ve read a ton of fanfiction, for about 5 years now—and I’ve always loved to read them specifically because it painted such a big picture about the story, and the world-building beyond that.
What culminated in everything about my decision with the web series was an experience I had in Utah [for the Sundance Film Festival] I had a bit of a breakdown because I felt stagnated and unsatisfied with where I was in life. Growing up I had always been seen as the girl who would make it and do big things immediately.
I mean, I had graduated at 16, had the highest grades, and read so many books. And here I was at 32: not ‘successful’ and stuck in this film festival. I felt really bad and like I’d let a lot of people down. So I was on the bus, and I was reading Dramione [Draco and Hermione] fanfiction. The one I was reading in particular was called Friend Number 3; it was really witty, and you know in the story they were both in their twenties. The plot followed Draco needing friends and the both of them struggling with this decade of their lives—and here I was having my own breakdown. And you know, I’ve always identified as Hermione, she’s always deeply resonated with me.
So it all just came to me: I should just make a web series about Hermione. Inspiration struck me and all the pieces all fell together in my brain. I was never a fan of the Ron and Hermione ship, I felt that he wasn’t suited for her and she wasn’t suited for him quite frankly. And so, to think that at the end of the [Harry Potter] story we skip to where they’re in their 30’s with kids and everything’s peachy? It didn’t make any sense. What was Hermione’s identity outside of the magical world, and outside of Harry and Ron?
So again, I was on this bus, feeling frustrated with all my stuff, and I was kind of seeing that parallel between myself and Hermione. Who did she want to be before Hogwarts? And now that the war was over, what was her purpose now?
After that, things kind of fell together on their own, very quickly!
3. What has the journey been like from season 1 to now?
Everything has really, really grown so much. What started as an idea on a bus in Sundance is now a thriving web series with a full cast and crew, and just thinking about that really illustrates how everything’s really elevated since then! We premiered in January of 2017, and now have reached a culmination of sorts with where the show has grown.
…Season two will be the final season of Hermione Granger And The Quarter Life Crisis. I made the decision recently after the crowdfunding campaign, for a variety of reasons. But essentially, we want to be able to do magic and incredible production design and bring this story to life as best as possible. We’re fans of course, but we’re also professional creators. There’s certain qualities that we want for the show that would not have had to reach compromises should we have decided to go forth with a full 3 seasons. I was worried about 3 seasons, because my concern is to make sure I tell the full, complete story of Hermione Granger And The Quarter Life Crisis. So, after weighing everything, the proactive choice was to cancel.
It’s been a real roller coaster for sure. It’s a big production with a small amount of resources and a game of endurance, and the ultimate goal was getting it done no matter what.
4. What were you most excited about for season 2?
Exploring Hermione dealing with her past. Having a lot of poignant characters come back into her life, and essentially illustrating how her past is going to force her to deal with it.
5. We’ve heard lots of debate about Hermione Granger’s race in canon. Why did you think it was important to specifically cast her as black?
And also focus on other WoC like the Patel twins?
Black girls don’t have multi-faceted coming of age stories. And then when you’re not white, it’s easy to relate to the girl who’s closest to your own identity (PoC). I’ve always related to Parvati, the non-white girl [in Harry Potter] who was a lot like me. And you know in the books Lavender, Hermione and Parvati were all roommates from the age of 11 to 17. Like even if they weren’t best friends, they had to have possessed a trust and a closeness with each other. I mean they had their first periods together probably! And went through the incredibly vulnerable time of adolescence.
And we see with Harry and Ron that even though they’re not best friends with Dean and Seamus and Neville, there’s a closeness
Black girls don’t have multi-faceted coming of age stories, I always related to Parvati, the non-white girl who was a lot like me. And then when you’re not white, it’s easy to relate to the girl who’s closest to your own identity (PoC). And you know in the books Lavender, Hermione, Parvati were all roommates from the age of 11 to 17. Like even if they weren’t best friends, they had to have had a trust and a closeness with each other. I mean, they had their first periods together probably, and went through the vulnerable time of adolescence. And we see with Harry and Ron that even though they’re not best friends with Dean and Seamus and Neville, there’s a closeness—almost like brothers— between them, because they’ve lived together and grown up together.
So it didn’t make sense to me that Hermione would just leave that relationship and never contact Parvati after the school years and the war was over; Lavender, Hermione, Parvati: naturally these three girls would have a relationship. Closeness. Trust.
6. What has the response been like to your web series?
Incredible! Sometimes people leave comments on the website about how much the show means to them—and not just as black girls—but other people who loving seeing the HP characters and who grew up with them.
People just love seeing them, and love seeing these magical people come to life in this unique kind of way. We do have occasional naysayers; some people insult the show and say “Warner Brothers would do anything”…but that sort of speaks to the quality of my work. Because when I and my writers sit down, we approach everything as if we were writing a Golden Globe show, or an Emmy award-winning show.
I take care in my work, and even those who have differing opinions (some who don’t like that Hermione’s black, others who don’t like the tone and say it’s like Sex in the City meets Hogwarts) encourage me to keep going forward in my craft. Because all of the responses, good or bad, have been a real indicator of my quality of work and I appreciate that and love that.
7. Much of what Hermione goes through as a twenty-something are things many Millennials can identify with. Is there other social commentary you believe you’re making within the realm of Hermione’s story in the web series?
I don’t know, only because I don’t think I’ve gone into that within the show.
The show itself is automatically political, because of the casting. We’re focusing on the PoC characters, and we’re just exploring above the grain with the story. But apart from that, I don’t. I don’t think it’s political. My thinking right now is to focus on the story, and just tell it the best way I can.
8. What’s been a favorite episode of yours so far (both in terms of filming, and watching?)
My favorite episode is Ep. 4. When Hermione sees her dad and goes to the bookstore. It’s been my favorite so far, because that’s when we really see the breakdown in Hermione, and audiences start wondering ‘just what the heck is going on with this girl?’ She’s not well, there’s something really going on and this episode illustrates that.
Also, with episode 4 we got to shoot the episode in an alley with a homeless guy—and while it’s not a funny scene, it was funny and fun to shoot, and Ashley [Hermione] and the homeless guy are both such amazing actors, it was wonderful to see.
9. Any future plans?
Hopefully! There’s other stuff I’m working on right now. I wil say I have another digital series I’m working on, that would be a lot different than this in that it would be be serialized. would say I have another digital series that would be a lot different than this in that it would not be not be serialized.
And also cultivating my entertainment company Sunshine Moxie. I’m really excited about these two projects!
It’s been interesting, the show is being featured on PBS on a series about reading. With me having this web series, it’s been opening avenues in the literary world, giving me the opportunity to possibly create some exciting video storytelling and content in the realm of books. And the digital series is going to be really fun!.
10. What’s one word you would use to describe Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis?