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'Harry Potter' actor Katie Leung says she was told to deny she was target of racist attacks

Fans even made an entire website to protest her casting, Leung said.
Katie Leung
Katie Leung at the World Premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," on Nov. 11, 2010.Joel Ryan / AP
/ Source: NBC News

“Harry Potter” actor Katie Leung opened up about being the subject of racist attacks as a teenager from the franchise’s fans and being advised to deny them in interviews.

Leung explained that “Harry Potter” fans attacked her online following the announcement that she would play Cho Chang in the film franchise during an interview on the "Chinese Chippy Girl" podcast. The character was first brought into the films for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2005 and Leung is credited in all the subsequent films.

“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,” Leung said. “I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist s---.”

Leung is a Scottish-born actor of Chinese descent and was only 16 when she was cast in the films. Now 33, Leung recalled that she didn’t get media training before interviews and tried to speak to a publicist about the issue.

“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 say it's not true, say it's not happening,’” Leung said.

Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" New York City Premiere - Inside Arrivals
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Leung during the 2005 New York City premiere of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."Dimitrios Kambouris / WireImage

It’s unclear whether the publicists worked for Leung or the movie franchise, which was produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Leung explained that she found one website dedicated to protesting her casting and saw a number of people who didn’t want her to play the part.

“I was really very f---ing grateful that I was in the position I was in but then, yeah… it wasn’t so great,” Leung said.

The actress spoke previously about the way she was treated by Harry Potter fans in a 2016 interview with The Herald, where she said she was in denial of the attacks while it was happening.

“I put it to the back of my mind,” Leung said. “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.”

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