Percy Jackson Casting Makes Waves


Written by Zoey Foss, A & E editor

If you ask anyone born in the last twenty years, they’ll tell you that Percy Jackson is the most successful children’s series to come out from this generation. Author Rick Riordan wove together a thrilling ten books following the series’ namesake, Percy, the son of the Greek god Poseidon. Although the books are classified as middle grade, the audience includes a much wider age group. Children, teens, and adults alike enjoy the books, and for over a year, they’ve been waiting patiently for information on the upcoming TV adaptation. Recently, Riordan has revealed the cast for the main trio, causing an uproar in the fandom.

In the books, Percy Jackson has black hair, Annabeth Chase is a blonde, and Grover Underwood has light skin. However, the cast of the show doesn’t match the descriptions in the book: Percy is now blond, while Annabeth and Grover’s ethnicities changed from white to Black and Indian-American. Although these are very different physically from the descriptions in the books, the spirit of the characters is prominent. Annabeth, daughter of Athena, was blonde because Riordan wanted to break down the dumb blonde stereotype. That isn’t too much a problem nowadays, and Annabeth’s casting as a Black girl upholds what Riordan was trying to do. Young girls of color everywhere will get to see a strong, smart protagonist who looks like them. Actress Leah Sava Jeffrie will bring new dimension to the character, and according to Riordan, her personality is just like that of Annabeth. As for the other two characters, Riordan has stated that he was looking for actors that match the characters in personality, not looks. Leah wasn’t picked for her skin color specifically, rather, her wit. Walker Scobell, who will be filling the large shoes of Percy Jackson, and Aryan Simhadri, playing Grover Underwood, are simply perfect for their roles, too. Riordan says he feels like the characters have come to life, and anyone who’s seen the previous work of these actors can see why. Walker is a master of expression and Aryan has incredible comedic talent. The trio is complete, and they’re perfect for the roles, but the fandom hasn’t necessarily responded well.

Some fans have responded with questions of whether Walker’s hair will be dyed black, which isn’t much of a concern for Rick Riordan. Some have expressed disinterest in Walker as Percy, solely because of his hair. Far worse, though, is the racist backlash. Leah Sava Jeffrie has already faced hate for her role. Although it’s only a small portion of fans, the hate has been pervasive. It’s hard to look through fandom spaces without seeing at least one person commenting on Leah’s skin tone. What these people fail to understand is that the character hasn’t been lost, only their enjoyment. If the author, the one who created the characters, thinks the actors are perfect, then they must match the original vision. Physical appearances aren’t the most important feature when it comes to creating an accurate adaptation.

As he has throughout the process thus far, Rick Riordan has assured everyone that he is very involved in the creation of the show. He makes the final call, and with something as important as the protagonists, it’s key for viewers to trust his decisions. He’s seen what these young actors can do, and he knows more than anyone who can fill the role well. With Walker, Aryan, and Leah playing the golden trio, fans can rest assured that the show will be a smashing success.