Katie Leung on Race and Refugees

Katie Leung, known for her role as Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series, plays the role of a North Korean refugee in the new stage play You for Me for You. 

In the play, she plays one of two starving sisters who flee North Korea and become separated at the Chinese border.

Leung admits to having had misconceptions about North Korea before the role:

I didn’t know much about North Korea before I did the play – like a lot of people, I had a preconceived view of it from the media and movies that made fun of it.

After researching her role, Leung met real North Korean refugees, and she was able to draw inspiration from the individuals. She learned to push aside the stereotypes and properly connect with her role:

Meeting real defectors gave us a real insight into the story. One of the big things for me is, because it is such a secluded place and people use phrases like ‘brainwashed,’ you almost expect these people to be like robots, and of course they’re not, and in fact, the opposite is true, and they have their own beautiful minds.

Having played characters known for their Asian descent, such as Cho Chang and later a Chinese woman who was given up by her parents due to the country’s one-child policy, Leung believes that, although her roles were based on her race, it played to her advantage:

I’ve been very lucky because everything I’ve done so far has been very meaningful.

Leung’s acting in the play has been described by London Evening Standard theater critics as “powerful,” and the performance has been said to give off a very important message and warning about consumerism in Western societies, especially regarding excess food.

The play will run until January 9 at the Royal Court Upstairs, Sloane Square. What do you think about Katie’s new role? Are you as interested in it as we are? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.