Actress Alexandra Daddario has chimed in on the backlash against Leah Jeffries casting as Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ show Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Daddario previously played Annabeth Chase in two Percy Jackson films The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters.
In the book series, (written by Rick Riordan), Annabeth is a true daughter of the Greek goddess Athena, a brilliant strategist with an active and curious mind. After having spent the last five years at Camp Half-Blood, she longs to test her mettle in the human world, of which she barely remembers. She trains Percy to survive the mythological world, and in turn, he helps her connect with her humanity. She is also portrayed in the books as white.
Riordan, hit back at the vitriol by praising the young actress and standing by the casting, calling any bullying Jeffries has experienced is racist in a blog post.
“I have been clear, as the author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary for me,” Riordan wrote. “We did that. We took a year to do 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 her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white.
“Friends, that is racism.”
Jeffries is feeling the impact of this as she stated on an Instagram live from earlier today, that her Tik Toc profile is gone due to bullying. “All the people did not want me to be Annabeth, they took down my whole account. I don’t not have a Tik Toc account, but that’s not going to stop us!”
Based on the best-selling book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians tells the story of a 12-year-old modern demigod, Percy Jackson (Scobell), who’s just coming to terms with his newfound divine powers when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt. With help from his friends Grover (Simhadri) and Annabeth (Jeffries), Percy must embark on an adventure of a lifetime to find it and restore order to Olympus.
Riordan and Jon Steinberg will serve as writers of the pilot, and James Bobin is directing. Steinberg will oversee the series with his producing partner Dan Shotz, who serve as executive producers alongside Bobin, Riordan, Rebecca Riordan, Bert Salke, Monica Owusu-Breen, Jim Rowe, Anders Engström, Jet Wilkinson and The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell and D.J. Goldberg.
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