Rick Riordan, best-selling author Percy Jackson and the Olympians, has some sharp words for critics of the decision to cast Leah Jeffries as the character of Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series based on the books. Jeffries is a person of color. In the books, Annabeth is white.
Under the headline, “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth,” Riordan writes on his website: “I have been clear, as an author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance. It was secondary to me.” He continues, “You’re judging her suitability for this role solely and solely by her appearance. She’s a black girl playing someone who is described in the books as white.”
According Jeffrieshis Tik Tok account was “banned” by people angry at the decision.
“So I guess all the people who didn’t want me to be Annabeth or something literally deleted my entire account,” Jeffries says in a video posted to a new Tik Tok account.
A Tik Tok spokesperson says Jeffries’ account was removed due to the platform’s minimum age requirement of 13. Jeffries is 12.
Riordan’s Percy Jackson books have sold more than 180 million copies worldwide. The live-action series tells the story of Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old modern-day demigod who adopts his newfound supernatural powers.
“The trio is complete!” Riordan got excited on May 5 when he announced that Jeffries’ Annabeth would be joining actor Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, who plays Percy Jackson’s best friend. Jackson will be played by Walker Scobell.
In his statement, Riordan writes that Percy Jackson fans who denounce the casting decision have missed the “core message” of the series.
“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 child who has failed in six schools, for example, may well be the son of Poseidon. Anyone can be a hero.”
Through its imprint with Disney Hyperion Publishing, Riordan has a history of elevating the work of various authors. According to his website, “Our goal is to publish great mid-tier authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to enable them to tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage.”