Kelly Marie Tran had had enough of the toxicity in the Star Wars fandom. It wasn’t simply venom spewed from haters. No, it was far worse.
The actress endured a relentless amount of abuse from trolls — both racist and sexist — simply because she is an Asian woman who appeared in a Star Wars film, which some fans have accused the franchise as “forcing diversity.”
After an under-the-radar complete departure from social media earlier this summer, Tran opened up about her decision in a New York Times op-ed posted Tuesday.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran began her piece. “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.”
Tran starred as Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And while there were some trolls who made it clear they did not care for the character, there was also overwhelming support from fans — and celebs — who loved Rose and Tran. Mark Hamill and director Rian Johnson were among those who told the so-called fans to back off.
“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.”
For Tran, the garbage spewed at her via her social media was far more than haters with an ax to grind over a franchise they feel belongs to them. The abuse is comparable to what Star Wars: The Phantom Menace stars Jake Loyd (Anakin Skywalker) and Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) experienced when their film debuted. Best was even quoted as saying he contemplated suicide because of the abuse from fans.
“I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white,” Tran 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 may have had enough of social media, but as for Star Wars, that’s a different story. Tran will appear as Rose once more in the upcoming, untitled installment directed by J.J. Abrams. And we can’t wait to see her kill it again as Rose Tico.
“I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing,” she wrote. “I know how important that is. And I am not giving up. 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.”