Leah Sava Jeffries said she wants other actresses of color to have the confidence to go for any role they want, as she told Shadow and Act Managing Editor Trey Mangum.
In a recent interview promoting Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Jeffries feels proud of more opportunities coming for girls and women of color in the industry.
“Definitely in these past couple of years, I feel like we’re getting a lot of opportunities out here, for example, The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey. It was amazing seeing all these young Black girls,” she said. “I was super grateful to get this part because I know that Percy Jackson has this huge fanbase and Percy Jackson is a really big thing. I know that the Annabeth prototype was not how I look like.”
Jeffries added that she has utilized the controversy over her playing Annabeth Chase, a traditionally white character, to help her career.
“Coming into this, there was going to be some controversy, but I knew I was going to take that and put that into a good thing for me. I wanted to make sure that I step into [the] controversy with, ‘Here you go, here’s what I created for you,'” she said. “I worked hard for this, I want to make sure that it gets to the right audience and really for other girls that are auditioning for any type of parts, never be scared to do it, no matter if someone was a different skin tone than you playing this part already, always go for it because it is always good to get the opportunity to just try whatever.”
“Again, this is just acting, you’re not transforming yourself into that person for the rest of your life,” she continued. “Maybe you film it for a year and then after that, you’re back into yourself. That’s what I told myself…this is why it’s called acting because you’re putting yourself into a different character, you’re playing someone, you’re not turning yourself into that person.”
Watch the full interview with the cast below.
The first two episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians are now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.