Vietnamese-Origin Actress Kelly Marie Tran Speaks Out About Online Harassment
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” actress Kelly Marie Tran opened up about her decision to leave social media in a powerful op-ed in the New York Times.
Tran, who the first woman of color to have a lead role in a “Star Wars” movie, deleted all of her Instagram posts in June after being subjected to sexist and racist online abuse for her role as Rose Tico.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran wrote. “Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”
She went on to explain that the ruthless criticism from trolls reinforced a narrative that she wasn’t good enough.
“Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was “other,” that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.”
She continued, “I believed those words, those stories, carefully crafted by a society that was built to uphold the power of one type of person — one sex, one skin tone, one existence.”
After Tran left social media last summer, “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and Tran’s co-stars Mark Hamill and John Boyega were among those who came to her defense.
Tran, who was born in America, is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. She said she grew up feeling like she didn’t belong because she was different.
“I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white,” she wrote. “I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.”
She concluded, “You might know me as Kelly. I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a ‘Star Wars’ movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Trần Loan. And I am just getting started.”