The new Disney Plus series Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is already drawing headlines with its casting choices. In an article by CNN Entertainment, the upcoming television streaming adaptation and the writer of its source material Rick Riordan (The Lightning Thief) are under fire recently due to their defense of the casting of black actress Leah Jeffries (Beast) for the role of Annabeth Chase from the story, who is described as white in the novels. Many fans have criticized the casting choice, claiming that the series does not visually align with the books.
The story itself originates from a middle-grade series of novels first published in 2005, which follows the adventures of a neurodivergent child who finds out he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon and ends up having his whole world turned upside down while also adventuring with fellow magic-aligned friends. There have been two movies by Disney based on the series — “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” in 2010 and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” in 2013.
As for the present-day drama surrounding the series, Riordan addressed these comments from fans with a defense of Jeffries in a blog post published on Tuesday, saying: “You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks[,] [f]riends, that is racism.” Riordan also went to Twitter to start the hashtag #LeahisOurAnnabeth, which ended up trending by that afternoon.
A premiere date for the upcoming series has not been set.