Former Harry Potter actor reveals she faced bullying over her role in the series

Friday, March 12

By Ciarán Mather

A former actor who appeared in four Harry Potter films has revealed that she struggled with the racially motivated abuse levelled at her by online trolls.

Katie Leung, who is Scottish and of Chinese heritage, made the revelation when she appeared as a guest on the Chinese Chippy Girl podcast.

Leung, who played the Glaswegian-Chinese character Cho Chang, said that she received vile messages about her race following her appearance in Goblet of Fire.

The 33-year-old told the podcast: '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 sh*t,' she said.

Leung, who was 16 when she first played Cho Chang in 2005's Goblet of Fire, added that she did not receive any media training before doing interviews, and said publicists told her to deny that the racist attacks were happening.

'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.' 

'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.'

She added: 'I was really f*cking 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.'

It is currently unknown if the publicists worked specifically for Warner Bros. or for Ms. Leung at that time. 

From 2005 to 2010, Leung played Cho Chang, the girlfriend of Harry's friend Cedric Diggory (Played by upcoming Batman star Robert Pattinson) who Harry secretly develops his first crush on.

After Cedric was murdered by the villainous Voldemort in the Goblet of Fire, a film which saw the series become much darker and mature, Cho confided in Harry about her boyfriend's death.

In the 2007 sequel, Order of the Phoenix, the two students' emotions proved to be too powerful and the two start a brief relationship.

In the books, the relationship mainly falls apart as Cho finds herself jealous of Harry's close friendship with Hermione Granger, as well as due to the fact that Cho stood up for her friend, Mariette Edgecombe, who betrayed Harry and his friends to the overly-cruel teacher Dolores Umbridge.

However, this was changed in the films, where Cho accidentally betrayed Harry and his friends to the cruel teacher Dolores Umbridge after being infected with a special truth-serum.

Cho Chang appeared again as a supporting character in the Half Blood Prince and was one of the students that helped to defend Harry and the rest of Hogwarts in the final film, The Deathly Hallows (Part II).

Leung is known for her roles in films such as The Foreigner (which starred Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan), Trainspotting 2 and Locked Down, as well as for her roles in various TV series and stage plays. 

The first film in the Harry Potter film franchise, The Philosopher's Stone, is set to turn 20 years old later this year.

If you have been negatively affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can find helpful resources and support provided by the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) by clicking here.