Chinese-Scottish actress Katie Leung silenced by publicists while suffering racist attacks during ‘Harry Potter’ filming
Published: Mar 15, 2021 06:28 PM
 Harry Potter and Cho Chang in film. Photo: Weibo

Harry Potter and Cho Chang in film. Photo: Weibo

Katie Leung rose to fame as Cho Chang, the very special girl who gave Harry Potter his first on-screen kiss. After being silent for years, Leung recently told another story of her and Harry, an unpleasant one though - she was silenced by publicists that suggested she deny the racist attacks she had experienced from netizens while filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 

Leung recently recalled that she found out Potter fans were making racist attacks against her soon after it was announced that she had been chosen to play Cho Chang in the film series. Leung shared the experience during an interview on the podcast program "Chinese Chippy Girl" on March 9. 

"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. "I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist s---," said Leung, as quoted by an NBC News report. 

The actress further emphasized that she tried to speak to a publicist after seeing the insulting online comments. Since she was a 16-year-girl who was nowhere near having the media experience of a veteran actress, she was "advised" by the publicist to deny these attacks and pretend they did not happen. 

"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, say it's not true, say it's not happening,'" said Leung, according to the NBC News report. 

The unfair situation experienced by Leung, a star who was born in Scotland but is of Chinese descent, stirred up netizens on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, who expressed support for the actress while also calling for those responsible for the comments as well as Warner Bros, the studio behind the Potter films, to apologize to the actress even though the incident occurred many years ago. 

"She was asked to pretend she wasn't being bullied? Like threats and discrimination en masse? That was disgusting. Apologize!" wrote one netizen on Sina Weibo. 

"It seems like Asian hate has been there for a long time, not just because of the pandemic, shame on you racists," said another. 

Other Potter fans tried contemplate the reasons behind the attacks, with some saying that apart from the issue of race, they believe the role itself is what cast a shadow on the actress. 

"I disliked Leung at that time, ever since I knew she was going to play Cho Chang. I think I just disliked Cho Chang too much at that time. Her role was just like a 'dream wrecker' for girls like me, who deeply admired Harry Potter as well as the actor Daniel Radcliffe," Lilis, a Potter fan in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"I remember there was a period of time that Harry Potter fans were all against her, saying her performance was not like Cho Chang in the book, and saying she was not pretty enough… but racist hate really pushed those complaints to another level. I hope she did not feel stigmatized by her role," another Potter fan in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday. 

According to Cheung, she now regrets being quiet about the injustice done to her. 

"I keep saying, 'Oh I wish I'd maybe said something.' But you can't do that," she said, as quoted by Variety. 

Having played an important role in Potter films such as The Goblet of Fire and The Half-Blood Prince, Leung once mentioned in a media interview that her Scottish accent helped her land the role in the films.