Months ago, Kelly Marie Tran (the first woman of color to land a Star Wars leading role) deleted her Instagram, and many speculated that this move was due to months of harassment following The Last Jedi release. Tran previously stated that she’d been consciously avoiding social media for quite some time because of scrutiny and being “picked apart,” and after enduring plenty of those things, it seems that she simply had enough.
Tran has now confirmed all of the negativity she received on Instagram by penning an essay for the New York Times. In a powerful and heartbreaking essay, Tran explains how she felt marginalized throughout her childhood. She had watched her parents change their Vietnamese surnames to better fit into America, and she was often mocked, even by waitresses who assumed Tran was “an exchange student” belonging to her boyfriend’s family. Then, Tran says, she began to believe the Star Wars fans who called her worthless (and more):
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.
And it was then that I realized I had been lied to.
Tran explains how she finally decided that she’ll no longer accept a role as a “minor character” in American society, and this is a brutal passage:
Because the same society that taught some people they were heroes, saviors, inheritors of the Manifest Destiny ideal, taught me I existed only in the background of their stories, doing their nails, diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests — and perhaps the most damaging — waiting for them to rescue me.
And then Tran owns her own power while pointing out that her career is only getting started. She refuses to further be brainwashed into thinking she’s the “other,” and she also reveals her real last name. The full essay is well worth reading, and you can do so here.
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, who has defended Tran against trolls in the past, has given the essay his stamp of approval.
(Via New York Times)