When the character of Rose Tico appeared in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it marked a significant moment in Star Wars films as the first main female character to be played by a non-white actor. The character played a key role in the film representing the capacity of those who suffered oppression and loss to overcome through the power of love and hope.
Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the story. After the film debuted the actress was subjected to repeated and harsh online attacks. As a result, she deleted her social media accounts.
Rose Tico was played by Kelly Marie Tran. You may remember how giddy with excitement she was at the world premiere as she walked the red carpet. She continued her enthusiasm throughout all the promotional efforts for the Star Wars movie and even got invited to be in the audience of The Academy Awards. But all the hate directed at her online caused her to step back and re-evaluate.
Now Tran is back and she has something to say. In an essay she wrote for the New York Times, Tran talks about the ordeal saying she went “down a spiral of self-hate” due to all the racist harassment directed her way.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she begins. “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, who is Vietamese-American, was no stranger to racism. She dealt with it growing up, her parents adopted American sounding names to they could fit in. Tran’s real first name is Loan.
The whole essay is worth a read. We were sad to see Tran chased off social media and hope that one day she’ll be comfortable enough to return and be able to find that gleeful excitement she once had at the thought of sharing her passion for Star Wars with other fans.
Look for Tran in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, but also in the series “Sorry for your Loss,” alongside Elizabeth Olsen.
Tran ended her essay with this powerful message:
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.