30 under 30: Katie Leung

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Katie Leung, 30, grew up in Motherwell

Katie Leung might be best known for beating 3000 girls to the role of Harry Potter’s girlfriend Cho Chang, but she’s so much more than part of our favourite wizarding world.

Struggling to cope with the ugly side of fame and unsure if she wanted to continue acting after Harry Potter movies were done, she enrolled to study photography at Edinburgh College of Art, but shortly before graduating her passion for acting was reignited and she won a part of Jung Chang in the first stage adaptation of her autobiographical novel “Wild Swans” (a must read btw!)

Her performance received critical acclaim, and to further polish her acting skills she started a three-year course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Before she was finished with it, she was cast in Channel 4’s miniseries “Run”, which landed her a Breakthrough Brit award at the Baftas in 2014. She then played Mei, a first-born Chinese girl adopted by an American mother and British father, in the TV miniseries “One Child”, which tackled issues such as execution, corruption, and the one-child policy in China. Most recently Katie starred in “The Foreigner” with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan.

Suffering from casual racism all her life and being typecast as a Chinese girl, Katie is a passionate advocate for better Asian representation in media. She explained it in her interview with The Telegraph:

“You say diversity, but it is not ‘diversity’ – it is [about] a more truthful representation on our screens, so people see a Chinese person speaking English and won’t come to the assumption that people of colour don’t speak English,”

She also protested against “yellowface”casting at The Print Room theatre for a play set in Ancient China, but with all white cast.

Katie is a badass feminist, and she would like to see more strong female Asian characters, as she explained to BBC:

“The challenge is being able to rid these stereotypes, so I’m not playing the submissive female who’s a victim, but somebody who is determined and fearless. [So] they can see a Chinese girl on the screen who has her own mind and is able to make decisions for herself and she’s independent.”

Activist, actress, and almost certainly not a muggle, we adore Katie, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

Pictures by Heathcliffe O’Malley, @thisisbwright, @tjeg


You can see the full list of our amazing 30 Under 30 2017 finalists here, and keep a look out on the blog as we feature a different finalist every day throughout November.

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