‘13 Reasons Why’ actress Anne Winters defends addition of “important” new character following backlash

Season three spoilers ahead!

Anne Winters, who stars in Netflix’s teen drama 13 Reasons Why, has recently come forward to defend the show after fans took to social media to criticise the series’ latest developments.

The third season of 13 Reasons Why premiered last Friday (August 23), introducing a new narrator named Ani Achola, played by British actress Grace Saif. Saif replaces Katherine Langford’s Hannah Baker, who was the series’ original lead for the past two seasons, sparking outrage among loyal viewers. 

In a recent conversation with People, Winters – who plays Liberty High’s head cheerleader Chloe Rice in the show – has said that the fans’ negative reaction towards Saif joining the cast is disproportionate. “I think her role was very important this season,” Winters said. She also explained that Saif’s character helps viewers understand antagonist Bryce Walker’s (Justin Prentice) cruel intentions better. 

“You need someone that has the other side of Bryce. And we wouldn’t have really gotten to see that unless there was some sort of new character that was living with him,” she said. “That’s vital to the story to see. And Ani is amazing. Grace who plays Ani is like the sweetest girl ever. I really loved her character this season.”

Although Saif herself has not publically responded to the backlash, the rest of her co-stars have shown her  support. Actor Timothy Granaderos, who plays Monty de la Cruz in the series, took to Instagram to shut down haters, reminding fans to “be kind and respect the work of the talented actress/actor behind the character”.

“Whether or not you support, like, or love, a character in our fictional tv show – please remember that there is a talented and beautiful actor/actress bringing those scripted words to life,” he wrote. “One of the underlining themes in our show is to take care of each other. I’ve seen some pretty nasty things being said online, concerning the introduction of a new character.”

Earlier this month, Netflix announced that it has renewed 13 Reasons Why for a fourth and final season. The show’s last chapter will focus on the main characters’ graduation from high school.