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Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan hits back at racism over Annabeth casting

Rick Riordan
Author Rick Riordan speaks against critics of casting Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase for Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Pic credit: @rickriordan/Instagram

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is getting its newest adaptation on Disney+, and fans are looking forward to the revamped series. The casting choices for Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover have recently been decided. 

Actor Walker Scobell will play Percy,  Aryan Simhadri was cast as Grover, and actress Leah Jeffries will portray Annabeth. There has been a lot of support for the casting choices so far, but there was some backlash, particularly when it came to Annabeth’s actress. 

In the books, Annabeth is described as a blonde-haired and blue-eyed young girl who is very intelligent and white. However, Leah Jeffries is Black, not totally matching the book’s description of Annabeth. 

While the resounding response to the casting choice has been positive, author Rick Riordan had some words for those who were upset with the casting, particularly regarding Leah as Annabeth. 

Rick Riordan stands up for Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase

On Tuesday, Rick Riordan took to his website to address anyone who has any issues with Leah Jeffries playing Annabeth Chase in the new series. He says, “The response to the casting of Leah has been overwhelmingly positive and joyous, as it should be. Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.”

He then added, “If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me.”

He advised those who were upset to stop “bullying and harassing” Leah online as she has received many negative comments for her new role. Rick advised that he was looking for the actors that best portray the personalities of the characters in his novels while considering physical appearance as a secondary fact. 

As far as the casting, he wrote, “This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”

Rick Riordan takes stand against racism toward Annabeth’s casting

He added that if people are upset with the choice of having a Black actress play a white character, the prejudice stems from racism. “You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white. Friends, that is racism.”

Rick closed out his message by noting, “The core message of Percy Jackson has always been that difference in strength,” adding that differences are what make individuals great, before concluding, “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.”

Despite backlash from certain crowds, Leah is pleased to be able to work on the series and thankful for the experience, giving a shout-out to Rick Riordan and Disney+ for giving her the opportunity to bring this series to life the right way.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians does not have a release date at this time but will air on Disney+.

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