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'Harry Potter' actor Katie Leung says she was told to deny she was target of racist attacks

Leung, who was 16 when she was cast as Cho Chang in the film franchise, said she found racist comments about her on websites dedicated to "Harry Potter" fans.
Image: Katie Leung
Katie Leung at the world premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" on Nov. 11, 2010.Joel Ryan / AP

“Harry Potter” actor Katie Leung opened up about being the subject of racist attacks as a teenager from the franchise’s fans and being advised to deny them in interviews.

Leung explained during an interview on the podcast "Chinese Chippy Girl" that "Harry Potter" fans attacked her online following the announcement that she would play Cho Chang in the film franchise. The character was first brought into the films for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2005, and Leung is credited in all the subsequent films.

“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,” Leung said. “I remember reading all the comments. And, yeah, it was a lot of racist s---.”

Leung is a Scottish-born actor of Chinese descent and was only 16 when she was cast in the films. Now 33, Leung recalled that she didn’t receive media training before interviews and tried to speak to a publicist about the issue.

“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, say it's not true, say it's not happening,’” Leung said.

It’s unclear whether the publicists worked for Leung or the movie franchise, which was produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Leung explained that she found one website dedicated to protesting her casting and saw a number of people who didn’t want her to play the part.

“I was really very f---ing grateful that I was in the position I was in but then, yeah ... it wasn’t great,” Leung said.

The actress spoke previously about the way she was treated by "Harry Potter" fans in a 2016 interview with The Herald, where she said she was in denial of the attacks while it was happening.

“I put it to the back of my mind,” Leung said. “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.”