In a new op-ed in The New York Times, titled “I Won’t Be Marginalized By Online Harassment,” actress Kelly Marie Tran, best known to fans as the character Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has broken her silence on the online harassment that caused her to flee Instagram earlier this year. In the essay, she details her early life and how she was often made to feel less-than and peripheral in her younger years, trying to fit in among white American society. Tran, whose birth name is Loan Tran, is the child of refugees who fled Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
“Those words awakened something deep inside me,” she writes ”... a feeling I thought I had grown out of. The same feeling I had when at 9, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me. Or at 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, ‘Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!’”
As she continues:
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.
All of those feelings came flooding back after The Last Jedi, which starred Tran as the first woman of color in a Star Wars movie. Shortly afterward, she became the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair, setting another precedent. It’s all part of the world that Tran says she wants to live in, which she also details in the NYT piece.
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.This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward.
Kelly Marie Tran will appear once again in Star Wars: Episode 9, which is currently scheduled for a Dec. 20, 2019 release date.