This Star Wars Breakout Actress Just Broke Her Silence After Leaving Instagram
Becoming successful — like, starring in an iconic blockbuster movie franchise successful — doesn’t make you immune to hate, and actress Kelly Marie Tran, 29, knows this first hand. Tran became the first Asian-American woman (and the first woman of color) to score a leading role in a Star Wars movie, joining the cast of The Last Jedi in 2017 as Rose Tico, but her overnight fame came with an onslaught of trolls.
In June she left Instagram without explanation, though it was widely speculated that racist and sexist comments were at the root of her decision. Now? Tran has come forward to detail exactly what happened in a deeply personal New York Times op-ed, where she writes about how she began to internalize the negative comments about her identity.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she began. “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.” In the piece, Tran explains how she tried to hide her Vietnamese heritage as early as age 9, choosing to stop speaking the language.
“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 writes.
“And as much as I hate to admit it, I started blaming myself. I thought, 'Oh, maybe if I was thinner' or 'Maybe if I grow out my hair' and, worst of all, 'Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.' For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth,” she added. “And it was then that I realized I had been lied to.”
In the piece, Tran moves on to explain how the media, Hollywood, and American culture has forced her to continuously question whether her Asian identity is less valid than that of a white person, though now, she’s chosen to come out stronger. Moving forward, Tran writes about planning to use her platform to champion the voices of people and women of color.
“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,” she writes, ending with, “My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”