Harry Potter actor Katie Leung has opened up about all the racist hate she received after being cast in the franchise, saying a publicist once told her to just straight-up deny it ever happened. Are we surprised? Not even a little bit.
During an episode of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast earlier this week, Leung said she became the target of racist trolls online when she was cast in the role of Cho Chang in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005.
Leung is a Scottish actor of Chinese descent.
“I was Googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the Harry Potter fandom. I remember reading all the comments,” she told podcast host G-Ma.
“And yeah, it was a lot of racist shit.”
Somebody had even created a “hate site” for people who weren’t a fan of Leung’s casting.
“It would just be a count of people who disagreed with the casting, and you could just see a number,” Leung said.
The actor, who was 16 at the time, said she had received no media training before interviews with the media. She claimed a publicist told her to deny the racist attacks even happened.
“I remember them saying to me, ‘Oh, look Katie, we haven’t seen these, these websites that people are talking about. And you know, if you get asked that, just say it’s not true. Say it’s not happening’,” she said.
“I just nodded my head, I was like, ‘Okay, okay,’ even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes. I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, I’ll just say everything’s great.'”
Leung, now 33, said she was so grateful for the opportunity to star in Harry Potter, but the hate just absolutely sucked.
“It happened, I just – yeah, I don’t know. I keep saying like, ‘I wish I maybe said something’, but you can’t do that,” she said.
Bearing in mind that Harry Potter was the biggest franchise at the time (and still is, depending on who you ask), Leung not only had to deal with racist shitheads, she also had the world’s attention on her. She said paparazzi even came to her door to try and get a picture of her before the casting was officially announced.
You can listen to the full ep – episode 14 of Chinese Chippy Girl – wherever you find your podcasts.
Or, if you have a Spotify account, you can suss it out right here.