The Harry Potter franchise has taken some serious hits to its wondrous, magical vibe in the past couple years.
First the series' transphobic author exposed herself, with no horcrux wearing to use as an excuse. Now the fandom has exposed itself with serious racist attacks against certain actors.
Katie Leung, who portrayed Harry Potter's first love interest Cho Chang in the films, recently came forward with stories of how the fandom ridiculed her.
The truth came out during an episode of the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast, when she went on to talk about her role as Cho Chang, her experiences with the cast and some behind-the-scenes memories.
Knowing the importance of the character, Leung decided to explore her character more online.
But she wasn't ready for what she would find.
"I was googling myself at one point, and I was on this website, which was kind of dedicated to the Harry Potter fandom."
"I remember reading all the comments."
"And yeah, it was a lot of racist s**t."
"I just broke down; I just started crying."
Leung also discovered a "hate site" dedicated to her portrayal of Cho Chang and how much the fans hated it.
The comments were racially-charged in nature, calling into question the casting of a young Asian woman who would have romantic ties with two White, British, up-and-coming actors, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory).
To make matters worse, the franchise's marketing team tried to cover it up.
"I remember them saying to me, 'Oh, look, Katie, we haven't seen these websites that people are talking about'."
"[They continued,] 'And you know, if you get asked [about this harassment], just say it's not true, say it's not happening'."
Leung struggled at the time with her discomfort.
"And I just nodded my head. I was like, 'Okay, okay,' even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes."
"I was like, 'Okay, yeah, I'll just say everything's great.'"
"I can't remember much about that part of it because I was so in denial of what was happening."
"I put it to the back of my mind. 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."
And now she wishes she had handled the situation differently.
"I was really f'king grateful that I was in the position I was in."
"I keep saying, 'Oh I wish I'd maybe said something.' But you can't do that."
After hearing about this, the inclusive people of the fandom spoke out.
The way Katie Leung was treated - by the fans and the publicist - is abhorrent. We've seen fandom's power to do inc… https://t.co/dVWFHyfJsT— The HPA (@The HPA)1615490151.0
@jen_wang aaauuuuggghhh yeah. also my most vivid Katie Leung memory is being so uncomfortable that so many friends… https://t.co/96dLotF9iB— Kyra Davies (@Kyra Davies)1615519678.0
i would lay down my life for katie leung my beautiful queen didnt deserve to be put in that position at such a young age— bella 🍇👑🐝(📌) (@bella 🍇👑🐝(📌))1615495513.0
@abirmohxmmad Katie Leung is the saving grace of that character, hearing about what she had to deny is just heartbreaking— Andy Spence | AceBackspace #BlackLivesMatter (@Andy Spence | AceBackspace #BlackLivesMatter)1615483534.0
And some also came to talk about the more troubling parts of Harry Potter.
@tinestram @BuzzFeed Yeh Harry Potter looks more iffy the more you look at it.— Cynical Archivist (@Cynical Archivist)1615480469.0
@BuzzFeed I was in the forums back then and I remember some (sorry to say it) white girls being very upset that Cho… https://t.co/WKpUYr0kRg— MoniqueM (@MoniqueM)1615481717.0
@ElDutchio @BuzzFeed And Cho was given a stereotyped name Not one of portraits of minorities were spared of a cult… https://t.co/jXRe0i5RSq— Alexx (@Alexx)1615503338.0
@BuzzFeed @barbjustason Fandom can be fun-the creative works & camaraderie. But it can also be toxic as h*ll. Too m… https://t.co/Pa6NcmATNU— diana (@diana)1615504686.0
Leung is thriving in a variety of other ways now.
Leung went on to portray Cho Chang not only in her initial role in Harry Potter's fourth installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but she was also in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
She has also appeared in multiple other films and TV shows, such as The Foreigner, White Dragon, and Chimerica.
Leung has also spoken out about equality, actively arguing against J.K. Rowling online after her earliest transphobic tweets.
It's wonderful to see Katie Leung finding the space to speak out against these issues, and find her place in the industry.