Rick Riordan, author of the popular YA adventure novel series Percy Jackson and the Olympiansis speaking out amid backlash for casting one of his characters in the upcoming Disney+ series adaptation.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Riordan criticized those “who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase,” saying “it’s a shame those posts should be written, but they are.”
Jeffries, whose credits include Empire, was cast last week along with Aryan Simhadri to star opposite Walker Scobell, who will play Percy Jackson in the 20th Television series. Simhadri and Jeffries will play Percy’s friends Grover and Annabeth, respectively. Production will begin soon in Vancouver.
In the book series, Annabeth is a true daughter of the Greek goddess Athena, a brilliant strategist with an active and curious mind. Having spent the last five years at Camp Half-Blood, she longs to test her mettle in the human world, which she barely remembers. She trains Percy to survive in the mythological world, and in turn, he helps her connect with her humanity. She is also depicted in the books as white.
“It was clear to me as an author that I was looking for the best actors to embody and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary to me,” Riordan wrote. “We did that. It took us a year to go through this process thoroughly and find the best of the best. This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”
He added, “You are judging his suitability for this role solely and solely by his appearance. She is a black girl who plays someone who is described in the books as white.
“Friends, that is racism.”
He also called it bullying, saying: “Regardless of what you take away 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 for this kind of backlash and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative feedback she’s received online is misplaced. They need to stop. Now. “
Read his full post here.
Riordan said the production followed the Disney company’s non-discrimination policy and that the casting process “was long, intense, massive and exhaustive.”
“Percy Jackson’s core message has always been that difference is strength,” he wrote. “There is power in plurality. The things that distinguish us from one another are often our marks of individual greatness. You should never judge someone by how well they fit 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.
“If you don’t understand that, if you’re still upset about the casting of this wonderful trio, then it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve read the books. You learned nothing from them.”
Based on the best-selling book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians tells the story of a 12-year-old modern-day demigod, Percy Jackson (Scobell), who is coming to terms with his newfound godlike powers when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt. With the help of his friends Grover (Simhadri) and Annabeth (Jeffries), Percy must embark on the adventure of a lifetime to find him and restore order to Olympus.
Riordan and Jon Steinberg will write the pilot, and James Bobin will direct. Steinberg will oversee the series with his producing partner Dan Shotz, who serves as executive producer alongside The Gotham’s Bobin, Riordan, Rebecca Riordan, Bert Salke, Monica Owusu-Breen, Jim Rowe, Anders Engström, Jet Wilkinson and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. Group. Jeremy Bell and DJ Goldberg.