Katie Leung (Cho Chang) complains that she is being typecast because of her Chinese background and still suffers racial abuse for playing Harry Potter’s first love.
Katie Leung (Cho Chang) – starring in TV show Strangers – has just revealed she still suffers racial abuse for playing Harry Potter’s first love — and has told of her frustration at being pigeonholed as an Asian actress. The 31-year-old said she is always cast according to her race.
Leung plays Lau Chen in the eight-part ITV political thriller Strangers, which follows the death of the wife of Professor Jonah Mulray, played by John Simm, in a mysterious car crash.
Katie, who has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow after making the Potter films. Complaining of being typecast because of her Chinese background, she said:
“There is just so much I want to do and play. My expectations are really low at the moment. It is really hard.
“I don’t want to deny my heritage, or culture, but at the same time I feel like we need to reach a place where people are not stereotyping me.”
She said she had not been allowed to use her native accent on screen since filming Harry Potter — and described the Chinese-sounding accent she had to use in the Channel 4 mini-series Run as “cringe”. “When I say I have low expectations, I do want to play a part where I just speak in a Scottish accent,” she said.
Katie revealed she had to fight for the woman she plays in Strangers to have a British accent. “The original intention which was to have her speak in a Chinese accent, which I just refused to do,” she said.
The actress won the Harry Potter role in an open audition, despite being untrained, and said the racist backlash continues.
“It is insane. There is no reason people have such a hatred for her character and my character. I still have to contend with a lot of shit on the internet these days. It is not as much as when I first got the part, but certainly I think it is a lot to do with me playing the love interest.
“I think I have got to an age now where I realise there are loads of girls who have to listen to what I want to say and I have a responsibility to use my platform carefully. Especially, now, I just can’t sit back.”
Next month she is running to raise money for the My Body Back project, which helps victims of sexual assault and has clinics in Glasgow and London. The charity, for which she is an ambassador, has received £30,000 from the Scottish government.