Type keyword(s) to search


Percy Jackson Author Calls Out Racist Response to Leah Jeffries' Casting

In a blog post, Rick Riordan demanded that fans protesting Jeffries' casting stop "harassing a child online."
  • Leah Sava Jeffries, Walker Scobell, and Aryan Simhadri (Photo: Disney)
    Leah Sava Jeffries, Walker Scobell, and Aryan Simhadri (Photo: Disney)

    Though the Percy Jackson and the Olympians casting news was met with a positive response last week, a vocal minority of fans have expressed outrage over Leah Sava Jeffries playing heroine Annabeth Chase, leading Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan to defend the decision in a blog post published on Tuesday. Riordan was quick to call the response out as racism, as online critics have taken issue with casting a Black actor as a character that was described as white in the book series.

    "Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong," writes Riordan. "As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now."

    Riordan's blog post calls on critics to examine their statements when they say they are not racist and explains that although the character in the book is described as white, he did not take race into account when casting. He tells readers that Jeffries was cast because she is the best actor for the role.

    "You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks," continues Riordan. "She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white. Friends, that is racism."

    Riordan adds, "Saying 'I am not racist!' is simply declaring that you deny your own biases and refuse to work on them. The core message of Percy Jackson has always been that difference is strength ... If you don’t get that, if you’re still upset about the casting of this marvelous trio, then it doesn’t matter how many times you have read the books. You didn’t learn anything from them."

    People are talking about Percy Jackson and the Olympians in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.

    TOPICS: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Disney+, Leah Sava Jeffries, Rick Riordan