Actress Katie Leung‘s publicists allegedly instructed her to deny the racist attacks she encountered before and during the filming of “Harry Potter.”
In a recent episode of the “Chinese Chippy Girl” podcast, the 33-year-old Asian Scottish actress revealed that she was receiving harassment after production announced she would be playing Cho Chang in the film series, according to Huffington Post.
Leung, who was still in school and was new to show business, played the character in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” when she was 16.
Leung said she broke down and cried at the time after discovering secretly taken photos of her all over the front pages of newspapers. The photos were released before her role was announced, and she said she felt violated when it happened.
Leung later decided to look herself up online, due to the pressures and expectations of playing the character and Harry’s first love interest but discovered a “hate site” dedicated to her.
“I was googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the kind of Harry Potter fandom,” she said. “I remember reading all the comments. And yeah, it was a lot of racist shit.”
Eventually, Leung decided to tell her publicists about the websites, but they instructed her to pretend they didn’t exist.
“I remember them saying to me, ‘Oh, look, Katie, we haven’t seen these websites that people are talking about. And you know, if you get asked [about these sites and the harassment], just say it’s not true, say it’s not happening,’” Leung recalled in the podcast.
Being new to the industry, Leung nodded her head in agreement with what her publicists asked her to do.
“Even though I had seen [the racist attacks] myself, with my own eyes … I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just say everything is great,’” she said.
Although she was grateful for being part of the massive franchise, Leung said it was still difficult in hindsight.
“I keep saying, like, ‘Oh I wish I’d maybe said something.’ But you can’t do that,” she said, BuzzFeed reported.
In a 2016 interview with the Scottish Herald, Leung admitted she was in denial with all the racist attacks she found online.
“I can’t remember much about that part of it because I was so in denial of what was happening,” she said. “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.”
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