Katie Leung has opened up about her time playing Cho Chang in the Harry Potter films, saying publicists asked her to deny that she received racist abuse from fans.
Appearing on an episode of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast this week, Leung said she read racist messages from fans when her casting in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was first announced. “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, per Variety.
At the time she was cast in the films, the Scottish-born actress was only 16. She alleged the team behind the series of films failed to give her media training, while publicists wanted her to deny the existence of such racist abuse. “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 revealed. “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.’”
Here’s the Chinese Chippy Girl episode in question:
Warner Bros. Pictures was behind the Potter films and has so far declined to comment. The 33-year-old Leung did not specify whether she was referring to publicists representing her, Warner, or working in another capacity.
“I was really fucking grateful that I was in the position I was in,” Leung added. “I keep saying, ‘Oh I wish I’d maybe said something.’ But you can’t do that.” Following her appearance in ’05’s Goblet of Fire, she proceeded to star in the next four Harry Potter movies, which finished with installment No. 8 in 2011.
In a 2016 interview with the Herald, Leung said she put the racist comments she read “to the back of my mind.” She also suggested she was “so in denial of what was happening.”