Percy Jackson fans are rallying behind author Rick Riordan and Leah Sava Jeffries!
The author of the book series, who also co-wrote the Disney+ pilot and is executive producing, took to his website on Tuesday (May 10) to shut down any critics and backlash, defending his casting choices, specifically for the character Annabeth.
Following the announcement last week that Leah was cast as Annabeth in the upcoming Disney+ adaptation, there was some backlash due to her being Black.
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Rick shared a post on his site with his thoughts on the backlash.
“The response to the casting of Leah has been overwhelmingly positive and joyous, 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,” he wrote.
“If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now.”
Rick then went on to confirm that they went into the casting process blindly, and in support of Disney’s policy on nondiscrimination.
“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,” Rick said.
He then continued about those saying that the actress playing the role should be white like she is in the books, and people saying, “But I am not racist,” and “It is not racist to want an actor who is accurate to the book’s description of the character!”
“You either are not aware, or have dismissed, Leah’s years of hard work honing her craft, her talent, her tenacity, her focus, her screen presence. You refuse to believe her selection could have been based on merit,” Rick wrote. “You have decided that I couldn’t possibly mean what I have always said: That the true nature of the character lies in their personality. You feel I must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I as a white male author never would have chosen a Black actor for the part of this canonically white girl.”
“If you don’t get that, if you’re still upset about the casting of this marvelous trio, then it doesn’t matter how many times you have read the books. You didn’t learn anything from them,” Rick added. “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.”
You can read Rick Riordan‘s full post on his website at RickRiordan.com!
On social media, Rick shared the post with the hashtag #LeahIsOurAnnabeth, and it has shot up the trending page on Twitter, with fans showing their support.
ICYMI: Learn more about Leah Sava Jeffries and what other projects she has been a part of, as well as what else she has coming out.
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