Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran responds for the first time to the internet harassment campaign that led her to leave social media. Tran joined the galaxy far, far away as Rose Tico in last year's Episode VIII, becoming the first woman of color to have a main role in the franchise. Tran's bubbly enthusiasm on the press tour made her an instant fan-favorite, and many viewers were thrilled to see her represent an important step forward for Hollywood diversity. Unfortunately, Tran also fell victim to rampant cyber bullying and harassment.
Earlier this year, the actress deleted all of her Instagram posts, allegedly due to numerous hateful comments attacking her and the Rose character. An anti-Disney group quickly took credit for the incident, but Tran herself remained silent on the matter. Now, however, she has taken the opportunity to speak up against harassment.
Writing a guest column in the New York Times, Tran recalled her experiences of feeling marginalized throughout her life, such as when she stopped speaking Vietnamese to avoid being picked on, when a waitress mistook her for a foreign exchange student, and when her parents started using American names "so it was easier for others to pronounce." All of these instances (and others) made Tran feel like she was different, sending her down a "spiral of self-hate."
I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.
Tran ended her post by vowing to use her position in the entertainment industry to help make the world a better place, where everyone can live simply as human beings - regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else. Her words are very powerful and are proof that she is going to keep fighting, refusing to back down because a section of the Star Wars fan base doesn't like her. If anything, the online harassment only emboldened her to reach her full potential, and it should be exciting to see what she does next. Realizing how fortunate she is to "get to tell stories for a living," perhaps she can use her Star Wars clout to be a producer and give narratives she's passionate about a platform for a large audience. As the success of Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther, and others demonstrate, there's a widespread interest in diverse stories.
Lucasfilm confirmed Tran will return as Rose in Episode IX, so she'll also be able to continue to inspire fans around the globe with her role in one of Hollywood's most prominent franchises. Obviously, there's no telling what Rose's part will be in the sequel trilogy finale, but after she played an integral part in The Last Jedi (helping Finn change as a person), hopefully J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio gave her something meaningful to do. Rose is a character that means a lot to many people, so it would be a shame if she was just in the background.
Source: New York Times
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019