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What The Actress Who Played Cho Chang In Harry Potter Has Been Up To

Getting cast in the long-running Harry Potter film franchise was no doubt a dream come true and a door to many other opportunities for the young actors and actresses who graced the big screen as part of it between 2001 (The Sorcerer's Stone) and 2011 (The Deathly Hallows — Part 2). Given they were involved in one of the most popular and profitable properties out there, the world had its eyes on these thespians from the an early age, making their faces some of the most recognizable on the planet.

One such face belongs to Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang, a Ravenclaw and a brief love interest of Harry's. Though not nearly as prominent a character as Ron Weasley or Hermione Granger, she shared a kiss many a Muggle will never forget with Daniel Radcliffe's Potter in The Order of the Phoenix. That's 2007's news, though. What's Leung been up to since graduating from Hogwarts?

Katie Leung goes from school to stage

Leung admitted in an interview with the Evening Standard that she wondered whether she landed the role of Cho Chang because of her skills, or because she simply fit. After all, she went into the audition with minimal acting experience. These thoughts drove her to pursue other creative passions — notably photography, which she studied at the Edinburgh College of Art.

Not ready to completely give up on her screen career, however, Leung also continued fine tuning her acting ability while in school. A memorable course with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was what finally drove her to keep on keeping on, and was quickly followed by a role in the stage play Wild Swans in 2012.

Both the character she played and the fact that she was the lead performer rather than relegated to a smaller side role made for a world of difference from her time as Cho Chang. According to Leung, the freshness and excitement of the experience served to reinforce her feelings towards acting as a pursuit.

Katie Leung continues from stage to screen

Though Leung continued to act on stage, her role in J. K. Rowling's magnum opus wouldn't be her last on screen appearance. Her film credits are relatively sparse — her biggest movie since Harry Potter was The Foreigner, in which she played the daughter of Jackie Chan's character — but she's put in some work as far as television goes.

Leung began on the small screen in 2008 in the one-episode role of Hsui Tai on Agatha Christie's Poirot, a mystery drama as diametrically opposed to the magical fantasy of Harry Potter as it gets. Most of the work she's done since starring in the world-renowned franchise has followed suit, with many of her roles grounded in reality. One such part was that of illegal immigrant Ying from Channel 4's Run, who scrounged for a living while staving off a debt she owes a gang — a different kind of scary than fighting Voldemort, it's safe to say.

Leung's breakthrough performance came in the mid-2010s as the lead of BBC miniseries One Child. Playing an adopted Chinese girl named Mei Ashley trying to save her brother from an unjustified jail sentence, Leung's performance was highly praised. She's been well-received in general, as evidenced by her BAFTA Breakthrough Brits award in 2014.

Leung's roles have often played off of her Chinese descent, and she had much to say about that in an interview with BBC. Putting a positive spin on it, she commented (in reference to One Child) that, "Just because they have been race specific doesn't mean that I'm playing this one-dimensional character." These are empowering words indeed, and true.

Katie Leung is far from finished

With the television, film, and stage credits she's racked up over the years, Leung is showing no sign of stopping or slowing down. The year 2020 presents a unique challenge to the acting trade in the form of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, but even that can be overcome by releasing films on streaming services instead of in theaters. Leung made one appearance on TV screens in early 2020 as Eleanor in BBC miniseries The Nest — yet another role far removed from her days practicing her Expelliarmus spell as part of Dumbledore's Army. Her legacy as Cho Chang lives on, of course — and in June 2020, she leveraged it.

That same month, J. K. Rowling tweeted her controversial opinions on the transgender community. Fans were about as happy as Aragog was when he found Harry and Ron in the Forbidden Forest, and many old Harry Potter cast members shared the sentiment — Leung among them. "So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang?" she wrote in a tweet, followed by a thread of organizations looking to support black trans rights. Fans rallied to her side.

All things considered — and even without a time-turner to be absolutely certain — the future is looking up for Leung.