‘Percy Jackson’ Author Alexandra Daddario Defends Leah Jeffries Amid Casting Backlash
Young actress Leah Sava Jeffries was recently announced to star as demigod Annabeth Chase in the Disney+ live-action series of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novel based on Greek mythology. While many welcomed the young star and wished her on the show, a few didn’t have many kind words about the announcement. Jefferies recently took to her Instagram to reveal that her TikTok account had been banned due to people not accepting the casting.
Subsequently, Riordan, who also serves as the company’s executive producer Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, has spoken out against the “bullying and harassment” facing the 12-year-old actor. Additionally, Alexandra Daddario, who played Annabeth Chase in the Percy Jackson film franchise, also supported casting the young star on the show.
Rick Riordan, Alexandra Daddario defend Leah Sava Jeffries
Annabeth Chase, who is portrayed as a white character in the book series, will be played by Leah Sava Jeffries, who is black. This has led some users to target racist hatred against the young actor online. Coming to support Jefferies, Daddario took to her Twitter to write, “Leah Jeffries is going to be an amazing Annabeth!!! ”
Leah Jeffries is going to be an amazing Annabeth!!!
— Alexandra Daddario (@AADaddario) May 10, 2022
On the other hand, author Rick Riordan didn’t bother to mince words while informing social media users about the “inexcusably wrong” actions of “bullying and harassing a child online” on his personal blog. Given Disney’s efforts for diversity and inclusivity in its business, Riordan stressed that the actor’s “physical appearance” was secondary to him. Condemning online bullying in strong words, he wrote,
”If you have a problem with this casting, do not hesitate to tell me about it. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take away from this article, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, even though we’ve discussed the potential for this kind of backlash and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she’s received online are irrelevant. They must stop. Now.”
He was quick to call out the racism from people who claimed casting a black actor for a white character was “wrong.” Riordan pointed out that these people effectively dismissed Jefferies’ talent and years of hard work through their harsh comments. Finally, he wrote: ”You judge her suitability for this role solely and exclusively on her looks. She’s a black girl playing someone who was portrayed in the books as white. My friends, this is racism.
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