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Rick Riordan defends Leah Jeffries’ casting as Annabeth Chase, slams racist backlash

The Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan published a blog post defending the newly cast Leah Jeffries from the racist backlash against her.

Jeffries is set to play Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Annabeth Chase is written in the novel as a white girl with blonde hair, and for this reason, some fans were against the decision to cast Jeffries — who is Black — for the role.

Riordan started his post by addressing those who are upset with the casting.

“This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase,” the author wrote. “It’s a shame such posts need to be written, but they do. First, let me be clear I am speaking here only for myself. These thoughts are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions of any part of Disney, the TV show, the production team, or the Jeffries family.”

When Riordan and Disney opened the casting call for the series, they followed Disney’s company policy on nondiscrimination – diverse, inclusive casting. For every role, talents were welcome to audition without regard to disability, gender, race and ethnicity, age, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Riordan went on to explain how he picked the cast. He wrote, “I have been clear, as the author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary for me. We did that. We took a year to do this process thoroughly and find the best of the best. This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”

“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 Riordan

Since the reveal of the complete cast, Jeffries has been receiving a lot of bullying, racist, and hate comments about her being cast as Annabeth Chase.

leah jeffries annabeth

leah jeffries annabeth

leah jeffries annabeth

Although there are a lot of negative comments, there are also positive comments showing support and appreciation for Jeffries.

Even actress Alexandra Daddario, who previously portrayed Annabeth Chase in the film adaptations of the first two Percy Jackson books, showed her support for Jeffries.

Riordan defended his decision to cast Jeffries for the role of Annabeth, saying that the young actress possesses much of Annabeth’s strength.

“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 wrote.

In his previous blog post, he described Leah as exactly how he imagined Annabeth in the books: intelligent, strong, and courageous, a true daughter of Athena who has zero patience for the foolishness of a certain Seaweed Brain.

You can read the entire statement of Rick Riordan here.


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6 Things fans would love to see in the upcoming Percy Jackson series

Solangelo is invading Tartarus in Riordan’s next Camp Half-Blood book

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