Kelly Marie Tran Speaks About Surviving The Online Star Wars Harassment

The star of Disney's animated Raya and the Last Dragon explains how she's been changed by the experience and more inspired than ever.

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On the heels of a new international trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon being released, star Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) has spoken with both The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire about her journey overcoming online harassment from Star Wars fans in 2018 to now becoming a Disney Princess.

Along with director Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi, Tran was on the receiving end of aggressive pushback online against the perceived progressive themes and casting in that Star Wars entry to the franchise. After writing a 2018 op-ed for The New York Times with the headline "I Won't Be Marginalized by Online Harassment," Tran tells The Hollywood Reporter that she opted to withdraw from the spotlight.

"I left. I said no to a lot of things," said Tran. "It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. And I realized, I didn't know how I felt anymore. And I didn't remember why I was in this in the first place."

Tran describes a years-long process of "clos[ing] up shop" to "really interact in the real world… [to] remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again."

Just as Star Wars ignited a particular passion for Tran, it was another Disney project--the upcoming Raya and the Last Dragon, which is scheduled to hit Disney+ on March 5--that rekindled that flame. What attracted her to the titular role as Raya, Tran told Indiewire, was, "Seeing the way that Raya sort of foregoes her own self-preservation and puts herself on the line, not even to fight for a better world that she knows exists, but to fight for a better world that she hopes exists."

When asked about her overall takeaway from the new Star Wars trilogy--both good and bad--Tran told Indiewire: "I think there’s always good and bad things about an experience. But the thing that I want to keep with me is that looking for the good is the most important thing.

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