“Harry Potter” actress Katie Leung opened up about her experience with racist fans during a recent interview on the “Chinese Chippy Girl” podcast. Leung played Harry’s love interest Cho Chang in four movies, including “The Goblet of Fire” and “The Order of the Phoenix,” and was cast as the Hogwarts student when she was 16 years old. The actress said it didn’t take long into her “Harry Potter” journey that she discovered fan websites full of racist messages about her.
“I was, like, Googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the kind of ‘Harry Potter’ fandom, Leung said (via Insider). “I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist shit. Somebody had actually created a website, a hate site. 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. It’s so awful.”
When Leung approached her publicists about the online racism she was receiving, the actress claims she was given instructions not to talk about the abuse and to deny its existence, should it be brought up in interviews.
“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,'” Leung said. “And I just nodded my head. I was like, ‘Ok,’ even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes. I was like, ‘Ok, yeah, I’ll just say everything’s great.'”
Leung continued, “During that time, it was the kind of rise of the internet and fandoms and all that sort of stuff. Because I’m 16 and a teenager, I care what people think as it is in school, never mind what the whole world thinks. There was a lot of pressure there. I was so caught up in caring about what people thought of me.”
Back in 2016, Leung told The Herald that the only way to deal with the abuse she received from “Harry Potter” fans was to ignore it. “I put it to the back of my mind,” she said at the time. “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.”
Following her involvement with the “Harry Potter” franchise, Leung went on to star in films such as “T2 Trainspotting” and “Locked Down,” which debuted on HBO Max earlier this year.