Harry Potter Star Katie Leung Says She Experienced Racist Attacks Upon Being Cast
Leung added she was asked to deny receiving attacks from fans.
Harry Potter star Katie Leung is opening up about the racist attacks she experienced after being cast in the franchise.
The actress, who played Cho Chang in the films, spoke out during an interview on an episode of the podcast Chinese Chippy Girl released on Monday. She says that after her casting was announced for 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she began to see racist comments from fans online.
"I was Googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the Harry Potter fandom. I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist shit," she said.
Leung, who was born in Scotland and is of Chinese descent, was 16 at the time and said she had little media experience, adding that publicists told her to deny that any racial abuse was happening. It's unclear whether the publicists worked with the film's studio, or if they were her personal publicists.
"I remember them saying to me, 'Oh, look Katie, we haven't seen these, 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,'" she said. "And I just nodded my head. I was like, 'Okay, okay,' even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes. I was like, 'Okay, yeah, I'll just say everything's great.'"
At the time, she says, she was just "grateful," and didn't speak out about what she was experiencing.
"I was really fucking grateful that I was in the position I was in," Leung said. "I keep saying, 'Oh I wish I'd maybe said something.' But you can't do that."
In 2016, Leung told The Herald that there was an "I Hate Katie" website about her during the Harry Potter years, which was riddled with racist comments.
"Looking back I can't remember much about that part of it because I was so in denial of what was happening," she said. "I put it to the back of my mind. I don't know if that is the best way to deal with it, but that is naturally what I did in order to move on and be a good actor.