With production on Disney+'s series adaptation of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" YA novel series getting underway, it won't be long before fans get a chance to see Walker Scobell (Percy), Leah Jeffries (Annabeth Chase) and Aryan Simhadri (Grover Underwood) bring the author's characters to life. Unfortunately, a small but loud & hate-filled group of supposed fans decided to lose their collective shit over a Black actress being hired for a character who is portrayed as white in the books. As if that wasn't bad enough, they then proceeded to go after the 12-year-old actress with messages of hate to the point where Riordan went online to post a scathing troll smackdown in defense of Jeffries (you can check out our thoughts here). Now, Batwoman star and Jeffries' co-star in Something from Tiffany's, Javicia Leslie, has taken to Twitter to urge her fans to do for Jeffries what they did for her when she first joined The CW's Arrowverse series.
"Hey, family!! I really need your help! My amazing co-star from 'Something from Tiffany's' (Leah Sava Jeffries) has been cast as Annabeth in the new 'Percy Jackson' show. Similar to my character, the character is described in the books as white. Unfortunately, similar to my experience, Leah has received A LOT of hateful messages after her casting. Leah is 12 years old! Let's not let these disgusting trolls ruin this experience for her. Please, make your way over to her Instagram and flood her comment section with light and love! Her IG is @ LeahSavaJeffries. You all completely lifted me when I was faced with the backlash and social media bullies, please do the same for her. Follow her IG and fill her comments and messages with pure love!!! Giving you all my endless gratitude," Leslie wrote over the course of three tweets (the first of which you can check out below).
Riordan pretty much made the case for Jeffries and had a whole lot more to say in a blog post earlier this week. While the entire post is definitely worth your time (you can check it out here), here are just a few of the highlights:
Bullying & Harassing Has to End: "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."
Jeffries More Than Earned This Role: "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. 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."
On Fans Thinking They Know Than "The Guy Who Wrote The Books": "You have decided that I couldn't possibly mean what I have always said: That the true nature of the character lies in their personality. You feel I must have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whatever, or I as a white male author never would have chosen a Black actor for the part of this canonically white girl. You refuse to believe me, the guy who wrote the books and created these characters, when I say that these actors are perfect for the roles because of the talent they bring and the way they used their auditions to expand, improve, and electrify the lines they were given."
There's a Word for Judging Jeffries' Qualifications Based on Her Skin Color: "Friends, that is racism."
If You Have Issues with Jeffries' Casting Because of Her Skin Color, Then You're No "Percy Jackson" Fan: "The core message of Percy Jackson has always been that difference is strength. There is power in plurality. The things that distinguish us from one another are often our marks of individual greatness. 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."