days after the Disney+ show Percy Jackson With three new cast members announced, one of the actors is facing an unfortunately familiar form of backlash. Twelve-year-old actress Leah Sava Jeffries is molested simply because she is black, while the character she will play, Annabeth Chase, was described as white in the original novels.
Following similar harassment campaigns against Amandla Stenberg in the hunger games Movies and John Boyega in war of stars, this backlash cast a shadow over an exciting moment in the life of a young actor. It also prompted a steadfast defense against the rest of the Percy Jackson Fanbase who were horrified to see this type of racism in their community. In the last few days they have flooded #LeahIsOurAnnabeth Hashtag with supporting posts.
Sometimes described as a more inclusive alternative to Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson novels is a fantasy series that first appeared in volume in 2005. Two film adaptations were released in the 2010s, but neither received a particularly positive response from devoted fans. Author Rick Riordan is more directly involved with the upcoming Disney+ series, which raises hopes that this show is finally giving novels their proper place.
Riordan and Jeffries both responded to the harassment, with Riordan publishing a vehement defense of Jeffries’ casting. He praised her performance (“She’ll be a role model for new generations of girls”) and Disney’s commitment to diversity, and hit out at the negative comments: “They judge their suitability for this role solely by their looks. She is a black girl who plays someone described as white in the books. Friends, this is racism.”
In the meantime, Jeffries confirmed on Instagram Live that her TikTok account was deactivated due to mass reports from the harassment campaign. “I guess all the people who didn’t want me to be Annabeth or anything literally deleted my whole account,” she said.
Putting a bold face on the situation, she cheerfully redirected her followers to a backup TikTok account. But as many fans have pointed out, it’s pretty terrifying that a 12-year-old has to deal with a situation like this in public.
Responding to comments on Twitter, Becky Riordan, Rick Riordan’s wife, wrote that Disney and Jeffries’ family Coping with issues with Jeffries on TikTok and that there’s an entire social media team in support of the show’s main cast.
Thankfully, racist fans seem to be in the minority here, with Riordan and Jeffries both stressing that the overall response has been very positive. Over on TikTok, the most popular new Percy Jackson Day post comes from a middle school librarian who works at a mostly black school. Apparently her students love Percy Jackson, which makes the Annabeth casting super exciting news. “I’m so happy I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow,” she says, praising the casting of Leah Jeffries in a TikTok that has now garnered nearly half a million views.
The Daily Dot has emailed Disney+ and the show’s representatives for comment.
*Initial publication: May 11, 2022 at 7:40 am CDT
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she is the co-host of the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/racist-percy-jackson-fans-leah-sava-jeffries-annabeth/ Leah Sava Jeffries’ TikTok deactivated amid racist harassment campaign