Publicists were far from supportive when the actress who played the character of Cho Chang in the “Harry Potter” films discovered websites full of racist fan abuse against her.
“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. I remember reading all the comments,” Katie Leung, now 33, who was cast as Chang at age 16, said on Monday’s episode of the “Chinese Chippy Girl” podcast. “Somebody had actually created a website — a hate site. It was like, if you disagree with this casting, click on this button, and it was like a count of who disagreed with the casting. It’s so awful.”
The Scottish actor, who is of Chinese descent, told her publicists of her disturbing discovery. But instead of offering support or solutions, she alleged, they instead told her that they’d never seen the websites and advised her to deny that they existed at all, Insider first reported.
“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 not true, say it’s not happening,’” she said. “And I just nodded my head. I was like, ‘OK, OK,’ even though I had seen it myself with my own eyes. I was like, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll just say everything’s great.’”
She did not specify whether the publicists worked for her or Warner Bros., the franchise’s producer.
While she agreed to smile and pretend all was well at the time, the existence of such sites upset her deeply.
“During that time, it was the kind of rise of the internet and fandoms and all that sort of stuff. Because I’m 16 and a teenager, I care what people think as it is in school, never mind what the whole world thinks. There was a lot of pressure there. I was so caught up in caring about what people thought of me,” she went on.
Still, she remains “really very f–king grateful” to have been a part of the “Harry Potter” movies. Today, though, she’s done pretending and admits that her experience shooting the films “wasn’t great.”
At the time, without support from her publicists, she coped by doing what they told her to and pushed down her pain.
“Looking back, I can’t remember much about that part of it because I was so in denial of what was happening,” she told Scotland’s The Herald in 2016. “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.”
Warner Bros. did not return The Post’s request for comment.