‘Harry Potter’ Star Katie Leung Says Publicists Told Her to Deny Getting Race-Related Hate
Her publicists told her, "If you get asked that, just say it's not true, say it's not happening."
Katie Leung was just 16 years old when she was cast as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter film franchise. She ultimately appeared in four of the Harry Potter films and played the love interest to Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix. Despite being a fan-favorite returning character for many Potter-heads, Leung told Georgie Ma, host of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast, that she was also the target of racially charged hate within online Harry Potter forums.
"I was Googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the kind of Harry Potter fandom. I remember reading all the comments," Leung said on the March 8th episode. "And, yeah, it was a lot of racist shit."
Leung noted that there was actually a "hate site" dedicated to her being chosen to play Cho Chang. "It was like, if you disagree with this casting, click on this button, and it was like a count of who disagreed with the casting," she told Ma. "It's so awful."
What's even worse is that her publicists told her to deny ever having seen the racially charged hate forums. "I remember them saying to me, 'Oh, look, Katie, we haven't seen these websites that people are talking about. And, you know, if you get asked that, just say it's not true, say it's not happening.' And I just nodded my head. I was like, 'Okay, Okay,' even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes."
She said it was especially tough because the Harry Potter films were being released when internet forums and fan sites were on the rise and booming. "I'm 16 and a teenager, I care what people think as it is in school, never mind what the whole world thinks," Leung told Ma. "There was a lot of pressure there. I was so caught up in caring about what people thought of me."
Though she said her experience "wasn't great," she remains "really very fucking grateful" to have been a part of the franchise. And we're really grateful she was a part of it, too.