Kelly Marie Tran, the first woman of color to play a lead role in “Star Wars,” has spoken out for the first time about the online harassment that caused her to wipe her social media accounts earlier this summer. In an essay for The New York Times, Tran wrote elegantly about the effects of the hate speech she experienced, and about growing up feeling “other” and undesired both as a woman and a person of color.
“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 writes. “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.”
Tran joined the billion-dollar franchise in 2017, playing Rose Tico in Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” While many fans hailed her performance and rejoiced at the introduction of the new character, others took to online forums and social media to criticize her looks, ethnicity, and talent. Johnson and co-stars like John Boyega and Mark Hamill all defended Tran, as well as cos-players who organized a #RallyForRose at Comic-Con 2018.
Tran concludes with a powerful rallying cry for all marginalized identities:
“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.”
Read Tran’s full essay at The New York Times.