In June of this year, Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, XOXO) deleted all of her Instagram photos. All she left behind are the words, “Afraid, but doing it anyway. 🦁,” which remain as of today. How did we get here, and what led to this? Tran played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and after appearing in the role, Tran received wave after wave of online harassment. After months of silence on the topic, Tran opened up to The New York Times about the online harassment she faced. Here’s what she had to say:
“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.”
Tran 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. I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white,” she stated. “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 Loan. And I am just getting started.”
Tran’s costar Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Murder on the Orient Express) also experienced a tsunami of harassment for her role in Star Wars. Could Tran’s powerful rebuttal to online trolls be the start of something larger? By and large, fans definitely have her back, and her detractors are a vocal minority. When so-called fans and their agitation over fictional characters go too far, how can true fans express their support? Stand up against harassment of any kind and help create the kind of online environment where stars and fans can feel comfortable interacting with one another.
Tran reprises her role as Rose in Star Wars: Episode IX, which hits theaters on December 20, 2019.