"Harry Potter" Star Katie Leung Says She Was Told to Deny Racist Bullying
At 16, Leung was subjected to racist abuse after being cast in the fantasy film franchise.
Although being cast as Harry Potter's love interest might sound like a dream come true, it came with a cost for actor Katie Leung. In the past, Leung has been open about the racist bullying she was subjected to when she was cast as Cho Chang at 16 years old. More recently, the actor admitted that she was told to deny that the bullying was occurring if she was asked about it by the press. Keep reading to learn more about what Leung endured, and for more uncomfortable celebrity revelations, Whoopi Goldberg Says This Guest Called The View Hosts an Awful Name.
Katie Leung received racist bullying online after being cast in Harry Potter.
Leung first appeared in the Harry Potter franchise in 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. During a March 8 episode of the podcast Chinese Chippy Girl hosted by Georgia Ma, Leung shared her experience of being bullied online before she even started filming.
"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 recalled. "I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist s***." At the time, there were multiple blog posts and comment threads protesting her casting, where people would post hateful and racist comments. And for more recent controversy, discover The Comment That Made Piers Morgan Storm Off His Show Before Quitting.
The actor was told to deny that any racist abuse was happening.
While on the podcast, Leung also revealed that she was told to deny that any racist bullying was happening after trying to talk to a publicist about the problem. She also noted that she didn't receive any media training before heading into 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. She told Ma that while she was very grateful for a role in a major film, "it wasn't great."
It's unclear whether Leung was referring to personal publicists or Warner Bros. publicists who represented Harry Potter. Best Life reached out to Warner Bros. for comment, but has not yet heard back. And for more unpleasant interview moments, This Resurfaced Oprah Interview With Mary-Kate and Ashley Has Fans Livid.
Much of the hostility toward Leung was aimed at her appearance.
During a 2016 interview with The Herald in Scotland, where Leung is from, she said much of the vitriol was directed toward her appearance. "I was being judged purely on my looks because [Cho Chang] is supposed to be a very beautiful girl," the actor said. "This all happened before the films even came out. I thought, 'Well, I can't do anything about the way I look, so I'm going to need to do the best acting to make up for it.'" And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Looking back, Leung is proud of how she handled the bullying.
"I was so innocent and naive," Leung told The Herald. She said she was "so in denial of what was happening" at the time, she can't remember much about it. "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," she noted.
In retrospect, Leung is proud of her younger self. "I look back, and I'm pretty impressed with how I did handle it," she added. And for another painful celebrity moment from the past, This Resurfaced Jennifer Aniston Interview Has Fans Horrified.