Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan slams racist trolls following casting backlash

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Author Rick Riordan.
Author Rick Riordan.
Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images
  • Author Rick Riordan has slammed trolls who have criticised the casting of a Black actor in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV series.
  • Twelve-year-old Leah Jeffries has been cast to play Annabeth Chase, who is described as white in the novels.
  • "The negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now," he wrote in a blog post.

Rick Riordan, the author of the popular book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, has slammed fans for being racist following the casting of a Black actor in the television adaptation.

According to Variety, the live-action series will follow the story of the 12-year-old modern demigod who's coming to terms with his newfound supernatural powers. The Adam Project actor Walker Scobell has been cast in the lead role and Aryan Simhadri in the role of Grover Underwood.

Twelve-year-old Leah Jeffries has been cast to play Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series; the character is described as white in the book. Fans have criticised the casting because it does not visually align with the books, reports CNN.

In a blog post titled Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase published on his website on Tuesday, Riordan defended Jeffries.

"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," he wrote.

He added: "The negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now."

Riordan said that as the author, he was looking for the best actors to bring to life the personalities of these characters and that physical appearance was secondary to him and that they took a year to find the "best of the best".

"This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase," he added.

The 57-year-old went on to admonish the haters and the racist comments.

"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," he wrote.

On Tuesday, the hashtag #LeahisOurAnnabeth trended on Twitter. Many voiced their support for Jeffries, who revealed in an Instagram video that her TikTok account had been banned thanks to people upset about her casting. "They literally took down my whole account," she said.

Rebecca Riordan, the executive producer of the show and Rick's wife, also released a statement on Twitter.

She wrote: "Demagoguery is a good word to know. Do we need to have a talk about the intersectionality of misogyny and racism? Misogyny is equally a problem here. We condemn both. Getting yelled at? Annabeth doesn't belong to you. She never did. Leave Leah alone."

This is the studio's third adaption of the novel series following the 2010 film, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters in 2013, starring Logan Lerman in the titular role. A release for the Disney+ series has yet to be announced.

"Watch the show or don't. That's your call. But this will be an adaptation that I am proud of and which fully honours 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", Riordan ended the blog post.


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