Star Wars Actress Kelly Marie Tran Speaks Out About Online Abuse
"I am just getting started."
Back in June, Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran closed her Instagram account following the online abuse she had suffered since the movie's release. While many of her colleagues and celebrity fans were quick to condemn her treatment, Tran herself remained silent on the matter. Now she has written an article for the New York Times about her experiences.
The piece is titled "I Won't Be Marginalized by Online Harassment," and it starts with Tran explaining that the racist vitriol aimed at her reinforced views and opinions she had heard much of her life. "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 said.
Tran, who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, went on to state that the abuse had "awakened something deep inside me," reminding her of experiences in her past. She revealed that she stopped speaking Vietnamese entirely when she was 9 because "I was tired of hearing other kids mock me," and also wrote about the time she was mistaken for a foreign exchange student while out with her white boyfriend.
Later in the article, Tran stated that ultimately she realized that the shame she felt was not for who she was, but was "a shame for how that world treats anyone who is different."
"I am not the first person to have grown up this way," she wrote. "This is what it is to grow up as a person of color in a white-dominated world. This is what it is to be a woman in a society that has taught its daughters that we are worthy of love only if we are deemed attractive by its sons. This is the world I grew up in, but not the world I want to leave behind.
"I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. 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."
Tran finished the article by admitting that "the opportunity given to me is rare," and reasserts that her position as a prominent Asian-American actor in a huge Hollywood franchise would ensure that "I am not giving up."
"I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie," she said. "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 isn't the only female star who has been forced to quit social media as a result of targeted abuse in the last few months. Stranger Things' Millie Bobbie Brown left Twitter in June, and this month The Meg's Ruby Rose left the platform following the announcement that she will play Batwoman. "I wish we would all support each other and our journeys," she wrote before deleting her Twitter account.
Tran will return for Star Wars: Episode IX, which is currently shooting in the UK. It will be directed by JJ Abrams, who also helmed 2015's The Force Awakens, and is set for release in December 2019. Earlier this month, the first image was released from the set.
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