Percy Jackson and the Olympians Casting – Yay or Nay?



The first season of the new Percy Jackson Disney+ show will follow the events of the first book, The Lightning Thief.

Nani Alvarado, Reporter

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a TV show based on the book by Rick Riordan that will be released sometime in 2023. The show will be an adaptation of the series and follow the same events as the books did, with each book being a different season. Rick Riordan himself is working to make the show and actors have already been cast for a variety of roles. There has been both praise and complaint for casting choices from fans, and while some can be written off as people objecting to change, others have legitimate reasons for their disappointment.

One of the most wavering opinions since November of casting is having Lin Manuel Miranda as Hermes. Hermes is the god of thieves and travelers and plays an important role as an antagonist in the series. “Elsalikesbooks” on TikTok, says that it was the perfect choice, saying it would be almost as if Hermes himself was instead playing Lin Manuel Miranda.”Friendlynbhdbarista” on TikTok made a video showing Miranda in front of a chair that says “Hermes.” On top of it were the words “HOW DID HE WEASEL HIS WAY INTO THIS ONE” with the caption sating “I WAS SO EXCITED FOR THE SERIES PLZ,” implying that they don’t like the fact he’s in the show.

Leah Jeffries playing as Annabeth Chase, a demigod who’s the daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and a main protagonist of the series, has also been a matter of praise and complaint. Plenty are excited about her playing the role. “Mouseabolition” on TikTok says “I don’t think we’ve taken a proper moment to address how historic the representation of black Annabeth Chase is going to be…….How many canonically neurodivergent girls can you name right now?” and that “Representation, especially when talking about representation in children’s media, is a way to open up a door in a child’s mind. You show them all of a sudden that a path they had not considered for themselves is possible. Annabeth Chase is about to open a door for Neurodivergent black girls that says you can be strong, and smart, and capable, and gentle, and loved, and make it to the end of the story.”

Some say that she’s not a good pick for Annabeth because she’s black instead of white, which is not Annabeth’s “book accurate” race.  Jeffries has been harassed about this online. People were so upset about her casting that they reported and took down her TikTok account. Rebecca Riordan, who’s an executive producer for the new Disney+ program, criticized the hatred towards Jeffries, tweeting “Leave Leah Alone.”

Riordan also released a statement on addressing the unjust hate and harassment online that Jeffries was getting, saying that “the negative comments are out of line and need to stop. Now.” He followed the Disney Company Policy and had their first casting have people audition without regard to disability, gender, race and ethnicity, age, color, national origin, sexual identity, or any other basis prohibited by law. To people who are upset about a black actor playing Annabeth, Riordan says that they are not aware, or have dismissed, Jeffries’s years of hard work honing her craft, talent, tenacity, focus, and screen presence.

“Without having seen her play, you have pre-judged and decided she must have been hired simply to fill a quota or tick a diversity box,” Riordan said. He’s always believed that the true nature of a character lies in their personality. He ends his statement saying that judging her appropriateness for the role solely because she’s a black girl playing the role of a book canon white girl is racist. The core message of Percy Jackson is that difference is strength, and if they haven’t learned that they didn’t learn anything from the books. Regardless of if they watch the show, he’ll be proud of it. He tweeted #LeahIsOurAnnabeth.

Considering Riordan himself choose her out of thousands of girls who auditioned it’s clear that when choosing someone for a role he looked at personality and vibes rather than just physical description, which is only sometimes integral to a character, Annabeth not being one of them. After all, seeing someone who looks like a character but acts nothing like them would only be disappointing. Many fans seemingly agreed with casting choice. Some fans love her so much they’ve already started making fanart of her as Annabeth.

Everyone who’s a fan of the series all approve of one thing about the cast: their age. It’s a breath of fresh air to finally get characters who are teenagers be played by teenagers. In the last adaptation of Percy Jackson every teen was played by an adult, which takes away a core part of the series. That being every time they go through one of their life risking adventures you’re reminded they’re just teens who’ve had the opportunity of having a regular teenage life taken away from them.