Percy Jackson and The Olympians Author Defends Leah Jeffries Casting

Following the casting of Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth in the upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney+ series, author Rick Riordan has taken to the internet to defend the casting from a small section of racist fans.

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In a recent blog post, Riordan — who wrote all five Percy Jackson and the Olympians books in the series — spoke out in favor of the casting, calling it “a shame” that he had to even write the blog post before praising Jeffries, who Riordan said would be “a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.”

“If you have a problem with this casting, however, take it up with me,” said Riordan in his post. “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.”

Riordan’s comments come after various accounts on social media began voicing their dismay over Jeffries’ casting, as Riordan had described the character of Annabeth as white in the books. Things went even further when the 12-year-old actress took to Instagram to note that her TikTok account had been banned following a wave of people upset at her casting reporting her account.

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“The core message of Percy Jackson has always been that difference is strength,” Riordan went on to say. “There is power in plurality. The things that distinguish us from one another are often our marks of individual greatness,” Rick Riordan writes. “You should never judge someone by how well they fit your preconceived notions. That neurodivergent kid who has failed out of six schools, for instance, may well be the son of Poseidon. Anyone can be a hero. If you don’t get that, if you’re still upset about the casting of this marvelous trio, then it doesn’t matter how many times you have read the books. You didn’t learn anything from them.”