Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan condemns racist comments about 12-year-old Leah Sava Jeffries

11 May 2022, 11:55

By Sam Prance

Leah Sava Jeffries will play Annabeth in Disney's upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

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Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan has released a statement calling out the racist comments directed at Leah Sava Jeffries.

Last week (May 5), Disney+ announced that rising stars Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri will be playing Annabeth and Aryan in their new Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Rick Riordan also took to his website to praise both actors by writing: "Leah is *exactly* the way I imagined Annabeth in the books" and "Aryan is exactly the right guy for the job".

The casting news was met with widespread praise online. However, Leah has also been subjected to racist comments from Percy Jackson fans and now Rick has taken to his website to condemn the people who are taking issue with her casting.

READ MORE: Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan slams the movies

Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan condemns racist comments about Annabeth actress Leah Sava Jeffries
Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan condemns racist comments about Annabeth actress Leah Sava Jeffries. Picture: Disney+, Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo

Yesterday (May 10), Rick wrote: "This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase... Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. The negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop."

Rick then explained: "I have been clear 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."

He added: "Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly the way you imagine Annabeth. 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 continued: "Saying 'I am not racist!' is simply declaring that you deny your own biases and refuse to work on them."

READ MORE: Disney+'s Percy Jackson series casts Walker Scobell as Percy

Rick ended his statement by saying: "Watch the show or don’t. That’s your call. But this will be an adaptation that I am proud of, and which fully honors the spirit of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, taking the bedtime story I told my son twenty years ago to make him feel better about being neurodivergent, and improving on it so that kids all over the world can continue to see themselves as heroes at Camp Half-Blood."

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