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‘Harry Potter’ actress Katie Leung was told to deny racist abuse from book fans

By Camille Santiago Published Mar 11, 2021 10:18 pm

Katie Leung opened up about the racist abuse she endured when she was cast as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise. She also said that publicists asked her to deny it when she's asked.

On Monday, Leung recalled her experience on an episode of Chinese Chippy Girl, a podcast that talks about life as a British-born Chinese or British-Asian. The actress, who played Harry Potter's love interest in the franchise, said she received racist backlash after the casting for 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was announced. “I remember Googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the Harry Potter fandom. I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist s--t,” she says.

Leung, who is Scottish and of Hong Kong descent, also remembers going across a website that just showed hate towards the casting. "It was like 'If you disagree with this casting, then click on this button.' And then it would just be like a count or how many people disagreed with the casting and you just see it in numbers," Leung said.

Somebody had actually created a website, a hate site. It was like, 'If you disagree with this casting, then click on this button.'

What's more, she was allegedly told to deny the racist comments when the press asks her, and was not given any media training before doing interviews.

"I remember them saying to me 'Look Katie, we haven't seen these websites that the people are talking about. And you know, if you get asked that just say it's says not true, say it's not happening.'"

Leung, who was just 16 at that time, just agreed despite the shock. "I just nodded my head. I was like 'Okay, okay.' Even though I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I was like 'OK I'll just I'll just say everything's great.'"

“I was really f---ing grateful that I was in the position I was in,” Leung told the host, adding, "but it wasn't great actually."

“I keep saying, ‘Oh I wish I’d maybe said something.’ But you can’t do that.”