The Walt Disney Company continued to show their true colors as they broke another one of their promises with the race swapping of Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood for their upcoming Disney+ series.
If you recall Disney promised when they first announced the series that it would be “closely aligned with Disney Hyperion’s best-selling book series by award-winning author Rick Riordan with more than 180 million books in print globally.”
That promise was broken when Disney announced the casting for the series that race swaps Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood.
In a press release, Disney announced Annabeth will be played by Leah Sava Jeffries while Grover will be portrayed by Aryan Simhadri. Disney previously announced that Walker Scobell would play Percy Jackson.
In Riordan’s first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief, Grover is described in the opening pages, “He was scrawny. He cried when he got frustrated. He must’ve been held back several grades, because he was the only sixth grader with acne and the start of a wispy beard on his chin. On top of all that, he was crippled.”
The description continues, “He had a note excusing him from PE for the rest of his life because he had some kind of muscular disease in his legs. He walked funny, like every step hurt him, but don’t let that fool you. You should’ve seen him run when it was enchilada day in the cafeteria.”
“Anyway, Nancy Bobofit was throwing wads of sandwich that stuck in his curly brown hair, and she knew I couldn’t do anything back to her because I was already on probation,” Riordan wrote.
While this description does not mention his race or skin color, an official graphic novel adaptation of the first novel by Robert Venditti and Attila Futaki and published by Disney’s Hyperion Books depicts him as white.
This isn’t the first time Grover has been race swapped. In the first live-action adaptation of the book, distributed by 20th Century Fox back in 2010, saw Grover portrayed by Brandon T. Jackson.
However, this is the first time they race swapped Annabeth Chase. Riordan describes Annabeth in the book, “The last thing I remember is collapsing on a wooden porch, looing up at a ceiling fan circling above me, moths flying around a yellow light, and the stern faces of a familiar-looking bearded man and a pretty girl, her blond hair curled like a princess’s. They both looked down at me and the girl said, ‘He’s the one. He must be.’ ‘Silence, Annabeth,’ the man said. ‘He’s still conscious. Bring him inside.'”
Later in the novel, Riordan wrote, “She was probably my age, maybe a couple of inches taller, and a whole lot more athletic looking. With her deep tan and her curly blond hair, she was almost exactly what I thought a stereotypical California girl would look like, except her eyes ruined the image. They were startling gray, like storm clouds; pretty, but intimidating, too, as if she were analyzing the best way to take me down in a fight.”
Clearly, Riordan provides a description of her hair color and her skin tone, none of those match up to Leah Sava Jeffries. However, it does match up to how she is depicted in the graphic novel.
While Annabeth wasn’t race swapped in the first live-action film, they did fail to get her eye color and hair color correct as Alexandra Daddario kept her dark brown hair.
However, she did eventually dye her hair for the sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Author Rick Riordan fully endorsed the race swaps. Discussing Simhadri’s casting on his website he wrote, “In his auditions for Grover Underwood, Aryan won our hearts. He had me laughing out loud with his delivery and timing. He has a mixture of sweetness, humor and internal toughness that is perfect for our favorite satyr.”
He added, “Grover has some big flying shoes to fill, but Aryan is exactly the right guy for the job. He and Walker already have a great dynamic together. And the visual magic we will be using to give Aryan his satyr’s goat legs is next-level stuff. Wait until you see!”
As for Jeffries he wrote, “Out of all the talented actors we looked at for this role, Leah Sava Jeffries quickly became my number one choice for Annabeth.”
He added, ” Leah is exactly the way I imagined Annabeth in the books: smart, strong and courageous, a true daughter of Athena who has zero patience for the foolishness of a certain Seaweed Brain. Watching her act with Walker and Aryan, I saw Annabeth Chase come to life. As soon as you see her on the screen, you will know what I mean. The Wise Girl has arrived!”
As you can see, Riordan is clearly lying to himself as the description he wrote of the character does not match the casting at all.
Disney’s new adaptation titled Percy Jackson and the Olympians is expected to tell “the fantastical story of a 12-year-old modern demigod, Percy Jackson, who’s just coming to terms with his newfound divine powers when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt. With help from his friends Grover and Annabeth, Percy must embark on an adventure of a lifetime to find it and restore order to Olympus.”
Riordan is writing the pilot for the series alongside Jon Steinberg with James Bobin tapped to direct. Steinberg is also showrunning the series alongside his producing partner Dan Shotz.
This casting announcement and Riordan’s defense of it, not only shows another of Disney’s broken promises, but it highly indicates the series will be infected by the woke mind virus that has seemingly taken over the entire Walt Disney Company.
I expect the show to attempt to promote disordered lifestyles and immoral behavior in order to change “hearts and minds.”
Because that is indeed Disney’s credo now as made clear by the company’s Bob Chapek when he stated, “There’s a reason content is at the top of this list. For nearly a century, our company’s stories have opened minds, inspired dreams, shown the world both as it is and how we wish it could be, and now more than ever before, represent the incredible diversity of our society.”
“We are telling important stories, raising voices, and I believe, changing hearts and minds,” he declared.
What do you make of these casting decisions for Percy Jackson and the Olympians?