We officially have the casting of Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood – Welcome back to Camp Half-Blood, Annabeth and Grover!
Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri join Walker Scobell as members of the lead trio in the upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, coming to Disney+. Rick Riordan, author of the books and a writer on the show, announced the castings on his website.
Leah has already built an acting profile for herself, having appeared in the series Empire as the character Lola.
Aryan is best known to audiences as Haresh in the recent reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen with Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union. Fans may even know him from the Disney Channel series, Spin. Of the trio, Aryan is the most experienced. He has been in the industry for eleven years, appearing in television commercials before he branched off into acting.
The US Disney+ Instagram account also announced the casting.
The Reaction From Camp Half-Blood Fans
From observation, some fans have taken the news rather well. However, there have been others who have not and have gone so far as to be racist.
Okay, Cass here and I’m jumping in. I want to ask, what does it matter if an actor doesn’t look like the character? As a Camp Half-Blood fan, I understand why people will be upset. They will have a specific person or look in mind, and when it doesn’t pan out, they overreact. Look, I get it. I do. But Rick [Riordan] has said the castings for the trio are done based on personality, NOT on appearance. This information comes from a blog post he put out when Walker’s casting was announced, so please read the link.
Rick has said that even he has spaced on character descriptions over the years. He even provided some examples in the link above.
A Look At Diversity
Now, my philosophy is that if you don’t like something, don’t engage in it. So, for the diehard fans dissing Leah and Aryan because they look nothing like Annabeth and Grover in their minds, please don’t watch the show when it drops. It’s that easy. I’ve seen Tweets where the comments range from “Not my Annabeth” to “this show will be as bad as THOSE movies.”
Most people who make these comments have zero ideas of how casting works. Many castings, regardless of the project, are often open to diversity. In addition, a lot has changed in the film and television industry over the years.
A classic example of diverse casting is Hermione Granger in the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The overall book series does not mention what colour skin Hermione has and was left open to interpretation. This is why the stage play casts a black actress to play our favourite know-it-all witch regardless of the country it plays in.
When the first casting announcement for Hermione in the play dropped, some people were confused. Others were annoyed that the character went from caucasian to black. It didn’t matter, as the play has done incredibly well, despite what diehard fans might say. Also, complaining about it didn’t work as the people casting the production didn’t fold on their decision.
Finally, I need to stress that Rick knows what he is doing. If he didn’t believe his books would be treated right a second time, he wouldn’t have given the go-ahead for the television series. Also, he is 100% involved. To all the people who say, “Rick doesn’t like blonde hair!” Do you hear how weird that sounds? If Rick didn’t respect people with blonde hair, why would he make Annabeth’s hair blonde in the books?
Also, people need to realise that The Lightning Thief, the first novel, was released in 2005. That’s 17 years ago. I can guarantee that most people making these comments weren’t even alive when the book came out. Moreover, how can you judge something that hasn’t even come out yet? Times change.
To end this post, I want fans to give the actors a chance before you completely write the series off as a failure. Please, respect the decisions made by the casting director. In conclusion, I want to congratulate Leah and Aryan on their roles, and I cannot wait to see more. When there is more news about other castings, I’ll share it.