Percy Jackson, author of SLAMS, fans furious over casting of 12-year-old black actress in Disney+ series

Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan has denounced ‘racist’ trolls in a scathing statement following online harassment of 12-year-old Leah Jeffries, a black actress, who was recently cast in the TV adaptation of the fantasy series.

In a post shared on his website Tuesday, Riordan criticized a subset of fans who were upset that the role of Annabeth, who is “described as white in the books,” was played by a young black girl. “Friends this is racism,” he wrote.

The 57-year-old expressed his sadness that he even had to defend the casting and said unequivocally that the role went to best actress for the role, adding: “We should be able to agree that bullying and harassment of a child online is inexcusably wrong.

'That's racism': Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan slammed 'racist' trolls in scathing statement following online harassment of 12-year-old black actress Leah Jeffries, who was recently cast in the television adaptation of the fantasy series

Full cast: Leah Sava Jeffries (left) and Aryan Simhadri (right) have been cast in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (with Walker Scobell - center)

‘That’s racism’: Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan slammed ‘racist’ trolls in scathing statement following online harassment of 12-year-old black actress Leah Jeffries, who was recently cast in the TV adaptation of the fantasy series (Riordan, left; Jeffries, right)

“This message is specifically for those who have an issue with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase,” Riordan wrote.

Last week, Disney+ rounded out the cast for the upcoming series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, announcing Leah Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri as Annabeth and Grover.

“The response to Leah’s casting has been overwhelmingly positive and joyful, as it should be. 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.”

“If you have a problem with this casting, do not hesitate to speak to me about it. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take away from this article, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong,” the author wrote.

In a post shared on his website on Tuesday, Riordan criticized a subset of disgruntled fans that the role of Annabeth, who is

In a post shared on his website Tuesday, Riordan criticized a subset of fans who were upset that the role of Annabeth, who is “described as white in the books,” was played by a young black girl. “Friends, this is racism.”

Annabeth’s character is ‘described as white in the books’ and was played by white actress Alexandra Daddario in the film series, but to kick off the TV adaptation Riordan explained the team used ‘Disney’s Corporate Non-Discrimination Policy’.

This meant that the casting department was looking for “qualified performers, without regard to disability, gender, race and ethnicity, age, color, national origin, orientation sexual, gender identity or any other basis prohibited by law”.

Riordan, who was heavily involved in the process, called it “long, intense, massive and exhaustive”, but it was worth it as it led to finding the “best of the best”.

“Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase,” he said point-blank.

“Some of you have apparently felt offended or exasperated when your objections are labeled as racist online,” he explained.

“Either you don’t know about it, or you’ve dismissed Leah’s years of hard work to hone her craft, her talent, her tenacity, her focus, her screen presence. You refuse to believe that his selection could have been based on merit.

“You judge his suitability for this role solely and exclusively on his appearance.  She's a black girl playing someone who was portrayed in the books as white.  My friends, this is racism.  (Annabeth pictured in the film series played by Alexandra Daddario)

“You judge his suitability for this role solely and exclusively on his appearance. She’s a black girl playing someone who was portrayed in the books as white. My friends, this is racism. (Annabeth pictured in the film series played by Alexandra Daddario)

“Without having seen her play the role, you pre-judged her (pre + judge = pre-judged) and decided that she must have been hired simply to fulfill a quota or tick a diversity box,” he said. he reprimanded.

Riordan pointed out that critics believe he – the character designer – “must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I, as a white male author, would never have chose a black actor for the role of this canonically white”. daughter.’

In the series, Percy Jackson – a demigod who is half mortal human and half immortal god – is framed by the sky god Zeus for stealing his lightning master.

Percy must now set off on a journey across America to find this lightning bolt and return to Zeus on Olympus with the help of his pals Annabeth and Grover.

“Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly as you imagine Annabeth, assuming you give her that chance, but you refuse to believe that can be true,” Riordan wrote. “You judge his suitability for this role solely and exclusively on his appearance. She’s a black girl playing someone who was portrayed in the books as white.

“Friends, this is racism.”

He went on to say that he was proud of this new series and that it “honors the spirit of Percy Jackson and the Olympians”.

“Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase,” he said point-blank. “Either you don’t know about it, or you’ve dismissed Leah’s years of hard work to hone her craft, her talent, her tenacity, her focus, her screen presence. You refuse to believe that his selection could have been based on merit.

Adding, “If you don’t understand this, if you’re still upset about the casting of this wonderful trio, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve read the books.” You haven’t learned anything from them.

Riordan will co-write the pilot script with Jon Steinberg, with James Bobin set to direct the pilot episode. Production is expected to begin shortly in Vancouver, according to Variety.

Steinberg will oversee the series with his producing partner Dan Shotz, who will also executive produce along with Riordan, Bobin, Rebecca Riordan, Bert Salke, Monica Owusu-Breen, Jim Rowe and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell and Gotham Group’s DJ Goldberg.

The first of Riordan’s books – Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief – was adapted into a feature film in 2010, starring Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase and Brandon T Jackson as Grover Underwood.

They also starred in the 2013 sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of ​​Monsters, although the franchise’s other books were never adapted.

Fantasy: Percy Jackson - a demigod half mortal human and half immortal god - is accused by the sky god Zeus of stealing his lightning master (Brandon T. Jackson, Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario in the movie Percy Jackson )

Fantasy: Percy Jackson – a demigod half mortal human and half immortal god – is accused by the sky god Zeus of stealing his lightning master (Brandon T. Jackson, Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario in the movie Percy Jackson )

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