Katie Liu Leung (born 8
August 1987) is a Scottish television and stage actress.
She is best known for playing Cho Chang, first love interest for lead
character Harry Potter, in the Harry Potter film series. In 2012, Leung
made her stage debut in the play Wild Swans. Leung has an interest in
painting and photography and studied art and design at the University of
the Arts, London.
Leung was born in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire to Peter, a businessman,
and Kar Wai Li Leung, who works in a law firm. She is of Chinese
descent. Her parents divorced. An immigrant from Hong Kong, her father
owns a restaurant and a Chinese food wholesale firm. She attended
secondary school at Hamilton College, South Lanarkshire.
Leung's father saw an advertisement for a Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire casting call, and suggested she should try out. She waited four
hours in line for a five-minute audition, despite feeling she had little
likelihood of obtaining the role, Two weeks later, she was called back
for a workshop and was cast as Cho Chang, beating out over 3,000 other
girls for the part. In retrospect, she stated in an interview with the
Daily Record that her Scottish accent probably gave her an advantage in
the casting, as the casting director asked the girls who attended the
audition, "Is there anyone here from Scotland?", to which only Leung
raised her hand. In a 2011 interview, Leung said her fondest memory of
the Harry Potter experience was the first audition, because both her
parents, who were separated at the time, went with her. "It was a really
nice moment because my parents hadn't seen each other for a long, long
time," Leung said. In an effort to heavily promote Harry Potter and the
Goblet of Fire, Warner Bros. sent Leung to China in the film's second
week of release, which was unusual for a market not used to frequent
She appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which she
and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) shared an on-screen kiss that received much
media coverage. Her role was significant in the series at this point as
Harry Potter's first romance. While Leung was greeted warmly by most
fans of the series, some Potter fans, jealous of Leung's relationship
with Harry in the film, created a "I Hate Katie" website and racist
messages posted on fan websites were upsetting to Leung at the time.
Leung's voice was used in the video games Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In July 2007, Leung was cast by Gold Label Records, a subsidiary of EMI
in Hong Kong, to be the female lead in the music video Love Coming Home
by Leo Ku. Leung filmed the video in London while promoting the new
Harry Potter film. Ku described Leung's acting as "professional" and
Leung played Hsui Tai in the episode "Cat Among the Pigeons" of ITV1's
Agatha Christie's Poirot, which premiered on ITV on 21 September 2008.
Leung has been named as Scotland's most stylish female and as the
hottest Scotswoman by The Scotsman. She has also been featured in Teen
Vogue and in Evening Standard.
Following the end of the Harry Potter films, Leung said she was
uncertain if she wanted to continue a career in acting. However, after
attending a drama course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she was
inspired. In December 2011, she was awarded the role of Jung Chang as
her debut stage role in Jung Chang's autobiographical play Wild Swans.
In comparing film to live performances, Leung said, "The obvious
challenge is of course getting it right the first time, which is weirdly
exciting for me." The play made its world premiere in Cambridge,
Massachusetts in February 2012, before returning to Motherwell.
In June 2012, it was confirmed that Leung would be starring in Channel 4
four-part drama series called Run as leading character called Nu-Ying.
Leung's character Nu-Ying is an illegal Chinese immigrant who sells
pirate DVDs and stolen phones on the streets of Brixton in hope of
making a life for herself in the UK. But first she must pay her debts to
the Snakehead gang who smuggled her into Britain.
She starred in The World of Extreme Happiness (The Shed at the National
Theatre, 2013), in which she played Sunny, along with Vera Chok as Xiao
Li, a female migrant worker, in a production about the world of migrant
workers in rapidly emerging modern China. Leung has also appeared in the
BBC's production Father Brown crime drama series.
In April 2014, it was announced that Leung is to play the role of Mei.
Mei, a first-born Chinese girl adopted by an American mother and British
father, is asked to return to her birthplace, Guangzhou, when her birth
mother desperately seeks her assistance in saving her son. It is made by
BBC Drama production for BBC Two and is co-produced with Sundance TV.
One Child was scheduled to begin production in May 2014 in London and
Hong Kong and air in late 2014.
In February 2016, Leung was spotted filming scenes with co-stars Jackie
Chan and Pierce Brosnan for The Foreigner. Leung playing the character
named Fan in the movie.
Leung delayed plans to go to art college and university to film Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. During this period, Leung had said
she was undecided about pursuing an acting career after Harry Potter and
wished to attend university to study art and design. In 2007, she helped
The Prince's Trust charity of Scotland raise £100,000 by launching a
children's art competition and also donated one of her own paintings
which was auctioned for £960. In 2008, she attended University of the
Arts London. Leung has expressed a passion for photography.
In 2009, she was one of two celebrities who donated a photo to
Sightsavers International's 2009 competition. Sightsavers International
is a charitable organisation to combat blindness in poor countries.
While appearing in Wild Swans, Leung worked to complete her photography
degree. On the completion of the play Leung has said she will attend the
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where as of 2012, she was
studying on the BA Acting course.
To this day Leung still lives in Motherwell, where she was born. She
speaks fluent Cantonese and some Mandarin.
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