There’s trouble in Percy Jackson’s world, and it’s not just caused by the Lightning Thief.
Back in April, the upcoming Disney+ reboot series cast The Adam Project star Walker Scobell as the lead Percy Jackson. Late last week, that casting was followed by a Variety report on two other key characters. Aryan Simhadri was cast as Grover and Leah Sava Jeffries joined as Annabeth, rounding out most of the series’ main cast.
In the original books, Annabeth is the daughter of the Greek goddess Athena. She is a warrior who trains Percy early on, then befriends and then more than that as the series progresses. In the previous film adaptation, she was played by Alexandra Daddario.
There has been a backlash in the fan community to Jeffries playing Annabeth, especially the fact that she is black. In an instagram video Posted earlier today, the 12-year-old actress said people angry at her casting had her TikTok account banned.
In response to the backlash, Percy Jackson creator Rick Riordan released a statement on your personal website. He noted that most of the response was positive and he condemned those who have issues with Jeffries on paper.
“However, if you have a problem with this casting, please discuss it with me,” Riordan said. “You have no one else to blame. Regardless of what 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’ve discussed the potential of this kind of backlash and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative feedback he’s received online is misplaced. They need to stop. Now.”
Riordan said the series’ casting was always intended to be open and inclusive. He called the overall casting process “long, intense, massive and exhaustive”. Riordan insisted that Jeffries was the best actress for the role.
He went further and dismissed the claims that Annebeth had to be white to match the books. Riordan explained that those claims have come “from across the political spectrum, right and left,” but he denounced them anyway. “You’re judging her suitability for this role solely and exclusively by her looks. Folks, that’s racism,” she claimed.
He called on fans to remember the themes of the Percy Jackson books. “Percy Jackson’s core message has always been that difference is strength. There is power in plurality. The things that set us apart from one another are often our marks of individual greatness. You should never judge someone by how well they fit in with you.” your preconceived notions.” That neurodivergent kid who has failed six schools, for example, may well be the son of Poseidon. Anyone can be a hero. If you don’t get that, if you’re still upset about the selection of this wonderful trio, then it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve read the books. You didn’t learn anything from them,” Riordan said.
This is not the first time that actors or actresses of color on a Disney project, or any project with a strong fan community, have received backlash. Both John Boyega Y Kelly Marie Tran suffered mistreatment by fans and potentially Disney himself. Flash actress Candice Patton has been harassed online for years, ever since she was originally cast as Iris West on the series. The CW eventually responded in an official statement on Twitter. And way back in 2012, Amandla Stenberg faced a fair amount of bullying for playing Rue in The Hunger Games. She was 13 years old at the time.
The Percy Jackson reboot was announced for Disney+ in 2020, along with a host of other shows and movies. That included most Marvel Studios shows, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, LokiY the next mrs wonder. also included Obi Wan Kenobithe series that will be reunite Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen. That show will air on Disney+ on May 27, 2022.
Mike Williams is a freelance writer for IGN.
Image Credit: Disney