Who is Leah Jeffries? ‘Percy Jackson’ author Rick Riordan slams 'racists' who bullied actress

Rick Riordan has called the criticisms “racism” after some slammed Leah Jeffries’ casting as Annabeth Chase


                            Who is Leah Jeffries? ‘Percy Jackson’ author Rick Riordan slams 'racists' who bullied actress
Author Rick Riordan has lashed out at trolls who harassed Leah Jeffries (Janette Pellegrini/Getty Images and Instagram/ @leahsavajeffries)

The author of the novel series ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’ has come out in support of Leah Jeffries after her casting as Annabeth Chase for the TV adaptation has been questioned and criticized. Rick Riordan has called the criticisms “racism” after people slammed the cast announcement of Disney+, claiming the character of Chase —  the daughter of Greek Goddess Athena — was a white person in the fantasy books.

In a blog post written on May 10, Riordan said, “This post is specifically for those who have a problem with the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase. It’s a shame such posts need to be written, but they do.” He continued: “If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame. Whatever else you take from this post, we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now.”

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Author Rick Riordan attends the launch party of Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles, Book 1: The Red Pyramid at Brooklyn Museum on May 3, 2010, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Disney)

 

The 57-year-old writer also went on to explain the thought process behind the casting as he said: “I was quite clear a year ago, when we announced our first open casting, that we would be following Disney’s company policy on nondiscrimination. The casting process was long, intense, massive and exhaustive. I have been clear, as the author, 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 for me,” before adding: “We did that. We took a year to do this process thoroughly and find the best of the best. This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”



 

 

Further, defending Jeffries’ selection for the role, Riordan concluded: “Without having seen her play the part, you have pre-judged her (pre + judge = prejudice) and decided she must have been hired simply to fill a quota or tick a diversity box. You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white. Friends, that is racism.”

Who is Leah Jeffries?

Jeffries is a 12-year-old child artist and model, who was born in Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of Princess Leah Jeffries and Floyd S Jeffries Junior. Princess reportedly works for 'TheLeahLiveShow' and also owns a production firm, named LeeJeffProductions LLC. There is no information about the actress’ father’s profession.



 

 

Reportedly, Jeffries started her career by becoming Lola Lyon for the successful FOX musical drama series ‘Empire’. She also worked in the survival thriller film ‘Beast’ and will soon be seen acting alongside Zoey Deutch, Shay Mitchell, and Kendrick Sampson in ‘Something From Tiffany’s’.



 

 

The star has also hit back at all the flak she is facing for ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’. A video of her has been shared on Twitter by @updatespercy in which she said, “To whoever is hating, stop doing that. I know you think that's going to hurt me though. It's not. You're just wasting time. I'm still confident. Everyone else is confident. Everyone else is happy for me. So don't try to bring me down. It's not going to work.”

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