The wizard-y world of Harry Potter has yet again grown a little less magical this week, after Katie Leung, the actress behind Cho Chang opened up about experiencing gut-wrenching racist attacks online after earning the part as a teen. Leung, who was cast in the iconic role for 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when she was just 16 years old says she began looking herself up online, where she came across several racist remarks. "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," she explained on Monday's episode of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast. "I remember reading all the comments. And yeah, it was a lot of racist shit."
Among the hatred, a particular site seemingly stands out in Leung's memory. "And then somebody had actually created a website, a hate site -- it was like, if you disagree with this casting, then click on this button and then it would just be like a count of how many people disagreed with the casting and you would just see a number," Leung said "I know, it's awful. It's so awful."
Yet when Leung broached these hate-fueled racist attacks to her publicist, she says they seemingly shrugged it off, instructing her to deny the 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.'"
The young actress complied. "And I just nodded my head. I was like, 'Okay, okay,' even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes," she recalled. "I was like, 'Okay, yeah, I'll just say everything's great.'" Although she says she feels "really fucking grateful" to partake in the beloved franchise, the Leung says she was in an uncomfortable position, essentially silenced about the abuse she endured online. "I keep saying, like, 'Oh I wish I'd maybe said something.' But you can't do that," she explained.
As BuzzFeed pointed out, Leung had previously spoken out about the racism she experienced as a result of the franchise back in 2016, telling the Scottish publication, The Herald that she was "pretty impressed" with how she handled the hatred as well as negative comments about her appearance "especially at 16.""Looking back I can't remember much about that part of it because I was so in denial of what was happening," she said when asked about the vitriol she faced from the fandom. "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."
So reader, take it from Leung-- racism or harassing teens is never okay.