The upcoming “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, in the works at Disney+, has filled its three main roles, and fans of the original book series are thrilled with the casting choices.
Leah Sava Jeffries (“Empire”) and Aryan Simhadri (“Spin”) will star as Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood, the closest friends of Percy Jackson, who will be played by 13-year-old Walter Scobell.
Disney+'s new show is based on a series of five young adult novels written by Rick Riordan between 2005 and 2009. The books are a modern-day interpretation of ancient Greek mythology, following demigods Percy, Annabeth and satyr Grover as they navigate adolescence while taking on gods, titans and monsters.
In the lead-up to the series’ casting announcement, fans on social media hoped to see actors of color bringing to life their favorite characters. Though the title character has remained white with Scobell, Jeffries is Black and Simhadri is Indian American.
“Little Black girls are gonna have ANNABETH CHASE as a character that looks like them AND is one of the smartest, most powerful characters in children’s lit,” one fan said on twitter.
Simhadri hails from Riverside, California, and was recently a lead in “Spin,” the first Disney Channel original movie about an Indian American family. Jeffries, who is from Detroit, has acted since she was 3 years old in shows like FOX's "Empire" and "Erica." She is set to appear alongside Idris Elba in the movie "Beast," premiering later this year.
Many who grew up with Riordan’s popular novels say they are excited by the choice to cast young actors consistent in age with the characters. The poorly reviewed first film iteration of “Percy Jackson” featured actors in their 20s and notoriously veered from the original plotline.
“The percy jackson series meant the world to me when i was younger, it was my comfort novel, and i always had to just picture the main trio as looking like me so the fact that there’s gonna be a generation of kids who get to SEE it? my heart is FULL,” another person tweeted.