Whatever Happened To The Girl Who Played Cho Chang In Harry Potter?

Katie Leung won over audiences with her portrayal of Cho Chang in the Harry Potter film series. The young actress may have auditioned on a whim for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, but she shot to fame at the age of 16 after scoring the role over 3,000 other hopefuls. The popular Ravenclaw fought the Dark Side alongside the wizarding world's famous trio — Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger — as a member of Dumbledore's Army. She was also a killer Quidditch Seeker, danced with Robert Pattinson's Cedric Diggory (R.I.P.) at the Yule Ball, and just so happened to be the titular character's first crush. 

But whatever happened to Leung the actress? Did she continue working in showbiz or fade away into the annals of former child stars? More importantly, what were the results of her Hogwarts House Sorting Quiz on J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website? (We'll just get this one out of the way right now: It turns out that Leung is a Gryffindor at heart.) We've got all the answers about this star's post-Potter world. Here's what Katie Leung's been up to lately.

She was targeted by racist trolls

While working on the Harry Potter movies, Leung famously shared an on-screen kiss with Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter in the series' fifth installment, 2007's The Order of the Phoenix. Needless to say, she was the envy of fangirls and fanboys everywhere. However, her casting and the publicity surrounding that infamous smooch made Leung the target of online abuse and racist comments via so-called "I Hate Katie" fansites. "I was quite impressed by how well I coped with it," Leung told The Telegraph in 2016. "I think it was all to do with being in denial. I tried to shut it out of my mind." However, more than a decade later, Leung still gets attacked by online trolls for being the beloved boy wizard's first love interest. 

Luckily, the majority of Potterheads actually adore Leung, her portrayal of Cho, and her undeniable chemistry with Radcliffe. As she told Herald Scotland, "It has been incredible because the fans I got to know and love from the beginning have been with me throughout my career." The actress added, "They come to see my plays and contact me through social media. ...They have been so supportive and I'm grateful for that."

Her magical roots left her with doubts

Katie Leung is grateful for and proud of her Harry Potter roots, but the high-profile filming experience left the young actress filled with doubts once the movies wrapped with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II in 2011. "I went into Harry Potter thinking this would be it. This would be my career," she told The Telegraph. "It wasn't until I came to the end of filming that I realized it might have just been a case of luck that I got the role. No more."

Having gone into the films without any acting experience, Leung believed she may have been cast largely based on her appearance, race, and Scottish accent rather than for her acting ability. As she explained to the Daily Mail in 2013, this rocked her confidence for years. "I came away from them thinking that I didn't feel like a real actor...[and] wasn't certain I wanted to rely on acting as a career because of the uncertainty of it," the actress said. "It has taken a while but now I feel more comfortable within myself."

She hit the books

Due to her growing insecurities about pursuing an acting career, Leung focused on her studies while continuing to reprise her role of Cho in the later Harry Potter films. However, she nearly gave the craft up entirely. "Acting can be precarious so I want to have a back-up," she told the Daily Mail in 2008. "I genuinely have no clue what I'll be up to in a few years' time." After studying art and design at the University of the Arts, London in the late Noughties, the multi-talented artist, who also has a passion for photography, continued her education at the Edinburgh College of Art.

Luckily for us, Leung eventually made her way back to acting despite these ventures into different areas of the arts. As she told Herald Scotland, "I love photography but I'm glad I'm doing acting. It shows that if you stick with it and work hard, something will come of it — it sometimes just takes a kick up the arse from friends and family." So, what exactly brought Leung back into the realm of acting?

The stage rekindled her passion for acting

Just before graduating with her photography degree, Katie Leung was cast in the play Wild Swans at the Young Vic in London. The 2012 theatrical adaptation of Jung Chang's autobiographical book of the same name portrayed the author's account of three generations of women living in China throughout the 20th century. Calling it a "truly inspirational story," Leung, whose character was based on Chang, told the Evening Standard at the time, "It's just an amazing opportunity and I couldn't have asked for anything better than this after Potter."

The production not only marked Leung's stage debut, but also ended her temporary departure from acting and became a pivotal point in her career. "It's probably the moment I decided I really did want to be an actor," she told the Daily Mail in 2013. "Being on stage and having the immediate response from the audience made me feel really good about what I was doing. To see how it affected people, and for people to say they enjoyed it, really made it special." The show itself and Leung's standout performance were well-received by critics. The Telegraph called it "enormously refreshing and vitally important."

Sorry, she's taken

Having spent most of the last decade in the public eye, Leung understandably tends to keep parts of her personal life under wraps. However, the actress will occasionally share an inside look at her longtime romance with boyfriend Eric Caira, a recruitment consultant who co-owns an Asian market called Oaka Supercity with Leung's younger brother, Jonathan, in Glasgow. Leung told the Daily Mail in 2013 that they first bonded over their shared love for Call of Duty, though other aspects of their lives are worlds apart. "We have different personalities — that's why it works," she said. "And if I have confidence issues, he's always been there for me."

Though her showbiz career is booming, Leung has afforded us a glimpse of the couple's home life in their shared apartment in Glasgow. "We watch a lot of Netflix and Amazon Prime, drink red wine and eat cheese in our [pajamas]. There's lots of chocolate involved," she told The Herald in 2016. "We want a dog, but we're waiting until we find a lovely place with a nice park nearby." Seriously, how sweet are these two?

She perfected her art at drama school

Leung's success on the stage inspired her to enroll in a three-year course at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to hone her acting skills and overcome her insecurities. She says that decision made a huge "difference" in her abilities. Acting "requires craft, you can't learn without training," she told the Daily Record in 2014. "...I'm now about to graduate and I am indebted to the drama school — I wouldn't have done all the things I've done if I hadn't come to them."

Prior to graduating in 2015, Leung continued to work in the theatre, appearing in The World of Extreme Happiness at the National Theatre and You For Me For You at the Royal Court. "Perseverance is important," she told The Herald. "Rejection is the biggest thing I've had to overcome, but that happens to all actors. It doesn't get easier but you learn to appreciate all the rejections — and the jobs when they come. I'm learning to embrace everything that comes my way."

She became a rising TV star

Following her successes on stage and the big screen, Leung turned her attention to working in television. In the early 2010s, she portrayed an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Ying who struggles to survive in Britain in the miniseries Run, and she later starred as Mei Ashley in One Child, a drama series set against the backdrop of China's controversial one-child policy. 

Leung's appearances on the small screen garnered national attention, and the actress was selected as one of BAFTA's Breakthrough Brits in 2014. This year-long mentoring program gave her a platform to reinvent her career in a post-Potter world. "It feels amazing," she told the Daily Record at the time. "I'm really grateful." Winning the prestigious honor also helped put those lingering doubts about her acting ability to rest. As Leung told BAFTA, "Because of Breakthrough Brits I'm able to approach my career with zeal, confidence, and a sense of control which means everything as an actor."

She spoke out against racism in the industry

As a Chinese-Scottish actress, Leung has battled stereotypes, prejudices, and typecasting based on her Asian heritage. The actress opened up about the "casual racism" she's faced in the industry, telling The Telegraph, "It really irks me. It is just ignorance. It is something that needs to be addressed. You say diversity, but it is not 'diversity' — it is [about] a more truthful representation on our screens."

Leung's experience inspired her to become an outspoken advocate for diversity, on-screen representation, and fairer casting in film and television. However, with the massive success of films such as Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I've Loved Before in 2018, she's cautiously optimistic about the direction in which entertainment is moving. "I hope the increase in Asian representation in film and TV isn't a blip," she told Digital Spy. "In the 15 years that I have been acting, I have really yet to play a role that is not down to the color of my skin, so I can't say that I have experienced anything like that yet, but I look forward to that day."

She shows no signs of slowing down

Katie Leung has spent much of her post-Potter career reinventing herself as a student, photographer, and actress, and she's become one of Britain's most promising talents in theatre, film, and television.

She starred in Tony Kushner's play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures, as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Snow in Midsummer, before playing Jackie Chan's daughter on the big screen in The Foreigner. Meanwhile, she broke new ground in Asian representation in television with her portrayal of Lau Chen, a political activist in Hong Kong, in ITV's 2018 political thriller Strangers. "We're used to seeing Asian females being a certain kind of type of character — demure, silent, dominated, and all these kinds of connotations. So to have a role as dynamic and as headstrong as Lau is really incredible," Leung told Digital Spy. "When I read the script, it was a role I really wanted to fight for."

The actress is set to appear in the animated series Moominvalley and the TV drama series Chimerica in 2019. However, there's one genre this talented multi-hyphenate is hoping to conquer next: "Horror!" she told Wylde Magazine. "It's my favorite genre when it's done right. I could definitely see myself doing the spooking."