Harry Potter actress Katie Leung has offered fresh perspective on the racism she experienced as part of the landmark franchise, emphasizing the way in which she was silenced while doing press for the films.
In a recent episode of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast, Leung recalled the backlash and online vitriol among some Potter fans following the announcement of her casting at age 16 as Hogwarts witch Cho Chang in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
“I was, like, googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the kind of Harry Potter fandom,” she said. “I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist sh*t.”
A Scottish native of Chinese descent who appeared in each of the three Potter films that followed, Leung said that she didn’t receive media training prior to engaging in interviews as a cast member. When she consulted with publicists about the racist comments she was subject to online, her concerns were dismissed.
“I remember them saying to me, ‘Oh, look Katie, we haven’t seen these, these websites that people are talking about,’” said the actress, now 33. “And you know, if you get asked that just say it’s not true, say it’s not happening.’”
Leung didn’t clarify whether the publicists in question were working for her directly, or attached to the franchise, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio did not immediately respond to Deadline’s request for comment.
In any case, it’s clear that some fan reaction soured her experience with the films. “I was really very f*cking grateful that I was in the position I was in,” she said, of being cast. “But then, yeah… it wasn’t great.”
Leung’s comments on the podcast weren’t her first calling out her mistreatment. Back in 2016, in an interview with The Herald, she also addressed the attacks of Potter fans, saying that she was “in denial,” while working on the films about what was happening.
“Looking back…I put it to the back of my mind,” Leung said. “I don’t know if that is the best way to deal with it, but that is naturally what I did in order to move on and be a good actor.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.