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‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ Announces Its Main Cast, Fan Art Floods In

They're so adorable!

Cast playing Annabeth, Percy and Grover. Image: Disney Plus.

The upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians (based on the middle-grade novels by Rick Riordan) now has its main trio cast! Joining previously announced Walker Scobell as Percy Jackon are actors Aryan Simhadri playing Grover and Leah Sava Jeffries playing Annabeth. For those who need a refresher since it’s been a minute since the main series came out, Grover is Percy’s satyr best friend. Percy meets Annabeth, daughter of Athena, at Camp Half-Blood. While Percy is the star of the story, Annabeth and Grover help bring the story together, forming a sort of found family.

In addition to the general excitement, there is already fan art of the cast! We probably won’t find out till right before the show comes out, but I can’t wait to see who are some of the deities in the story.

Cue the—oh … they’re already here.

While I and many are excited to see this complete cast, some of the first comments (with hundreds of likes) are expressing “concern” about the “accuracy” of Jeffries compared to her character in the books. To no one’s surprise, they preemptively say, “It’s not racist,” and point to her hair. (Something I never saw when Disney+ revealed Scobell as Percy because who cares?) In the series, Annabeth is very self-conscience about being perceived as a “dumb blonde.” This can easily be adapted to Jeffrie’s Annabeth being concerned about how her hair texture is perceived or giving her something else to be self-conscious about.

However, in the time it took to write that, there are probably way more people finding new euphemisms to say “It’s because she’s Black.” This even happens when the character is Black in the books, so it’s kind of a sad expectation when casting chooses a Black performer (even a literal child) to portray a part.

A few weeks back, when Disney+ announced Scobell, author Riordan took to his blog to clear up physical differences and how he feels about them.

Other questions I bet you are asking: Are we going to make Walker dye his hair black?

Answer: We have had zero conversations about this. Personally, I think this is a non-issue. For me, finding the right actors  has never been about hair color, eye color, skin color, or any other single physical trait, even if they were described a certain way in the books.

As many of you know, I flubbed such details myself several times in the series. Thalia’s eyes changed from green to blue. Oops! Annabeth’s hair was curly and then it was straight. Nico was described as olive-skinned, then later as pale. Blackjack even changed from a mare to a stallion over the course of two books. Whelp, not sure what happened there, but too late now!

He continued by clarifying that even with the original films (which he does not like), the issue he saw with casting was that they were too old for the part. “What I want to see are age-appropriate actors who can embody the personalities of the characters, nail their voices and their sense of humor, and make you believe: ‘Yes, that is Percy. That is Grover. That is Annabeth,’ even if they’re not exactly how the characters were described physically in the books.”

Rick Riordan with Percy Jackson trio Walker, Aryan and Leah. Image: Disney Plus.

Between what we know from Rick Riordan Presents and other projects, no one thought Riordan would take issue with this. I’m glad he took the opportunity to clarify his stance before the two actors of color were announced. However, when you see this nonsense online (if you want to engage at all), you can link to the many personal blog posts where he makes it clear and celebrates the casting by saying, “I promise that they will do you proud!”

(via Variety, image: Disney Plus)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.