Bestselling author Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians, has some pointed words for critics of the decision to cast Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ series based on the books. Jeffries is a person of color. In the books, Annabeth is white.
Under the headline, “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth,” Riordan writes on her website, “I made it clear as a writer 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 to me.” He continues, “You judge her suitability for this role solely and exclusively on her looks. She’s a black girl who plays someone who has been portrayed as white in the books.”
According to Jeffrieshis Tik Tok account was “banned” by people angry at the decision.
“So I guess all the people that didn’t want me to be Annabeth or something, they literally deleted my whole account,” Jeffries said in a video posted to a new Tik Tok account.
A Tik Tok spokesperson said Jeffries’ account was removed due to the platform’s minimum age requirement of 13. Jeffries is 12 years old.
Riordan’s Percy Jackson books have sold over 180 million copies worldwide. The live-action series tells the story of 12-year-old Percy Jackson, a modern-day demigod embracing his newfound supernatural powers.
“The trio is complete! Riordan got excited on May 5 when he announced Jeffries’ Annabeth would be joining actor Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood who plays Percy Jackson’s best friend. Jackson will be played by Walker Scobell.
In his statement, Riordan writes that Percy Jackson fans who criticize the casting decision have missed the “main message” of the show.
“Percy Jackson’s central message has always been that there is strength in difference. There is power in plurality. The things that set us apart from each other are often our marks of individual greatness. You should never judge anyone. one on how it matches your preconceptions.. This neurodivergent child who failed in six schools, for example, could well be the son of Poseidon. Anyone can be a hero.”
Through his imprint at Disney Hyperion Publishing, Riordan has a reputation for elevating the work of various authors. According to its website, “Our goal is to publish great mid-level authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to enable them to tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage.”