Harry Potter's Katie Leung was told to deny racist abuse she'd received

Tasha Hegarty
·3-min read
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

From Digital Spy

Harry Potter star Katie Leung has opened up about her experiences of racism while working on the franchise.

The 33-year-old Scottish actress played Cho Chang – Harry's love interest and member of Dumbledore's Army – in The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows - Part 2.

However, speaking to the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast, Leung – then aged 16 – recalled finding a racist website purely set up to dismiss her casting in the movies.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Harry Potter's Rupert Grint talks "suffocating" experience making movie series

"During that time, it was the kind of rise of the internet and fandoms and all that sort of stuff," she said. "Because I'm 16 and a teenager, I care what people think as it is in school, never mind what the whole world thinks.

"There was a lot of pressure there. I was so caught up in caring about what people thought of me. I was Googling myself at one point, I remember reading all the comments, and there was a lot of racist shit.

"Somebody had actually created a website, a hate site. It was like, if you disagree with this casting, click on this button, and it was like a count of who disagreed with the casting. It's so awful."

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

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Katie went on to say that she was told not to talk about the abusive comments she'd seen online and to deny any knowledge about them if asked in interviews.

"I didn't get any interview or media training before these interviews, and I remember [my publicists] saying, 'Katie, we haven't seen these websites that people are talking about so if you get asked, just say it's not true, say it's not happening'," she said.

"I just nodded my head, even though I'd seen it with my own eyes. I'll just be saying everything's great. I was very f**king grateful that I was in the position I was in, but it wasn't great."

It's unclear who exactly gave Leung this advice. Digital Spy has reached out to Warner Bros for comment.

Photo credit: John Phillips - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Phillips - Getty Images

Related: Harry Potter's Emma Watson responds to claims she has stopped acting

Leung previously opened up about the websites in 2005 and admitted that she was shocked by what she'd seen.

"Looking different from most of the people at school never caused me any problems," she told Good Housekeeping at the time. "Still, I never expected the hate sites that popped up on the internet after I got the part in the film.

"I couldn't understand why people were so angry – a lot of the messages were from jealous girls who didn't like the fact that I play Harry's love interest in the film and some of them did bring my ethnicity into it."

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