When Raya and the Last Dragon makes its debut later this week, the world will get to watch Kelly Marie Tran become the first Southeast Asian Disney Princess, which is a huge deal for the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. In a new interview, Tran reveals how she was understandably gripped with “absolute fear” when Disney offered her the chance to step into one of its animated “magical worlds” that Tran has always loved since she was a child. Likening the experience to being offered her breakout role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi while she was still working a full-time job as an assistant at a recruiting firm, Tran walked through how she pushed through the fear of closing doors for other Asian actors if the movie isn’t a hit. Via IndieWire:
“The pressure of it is very real as well. There’s this sort of idea that if this movie doesn’t do well, then it’s our only shot. And it’s like all of these sort of false narratives that I have in my head, and maybe false narratives that are perpetuated by an industry that, for so long, has been held in the power of one type of person. … When I think about all the people that I’m seeing work in this industry now that are continuing to open doors for people like them, God, that’s really inspiring.”
While it’s mostly left unspoken as Tran says she’s only wants to focus on the “good” parts of her Star Wars experience, the actress is still the target of vicious online harassment going all the way back to The Last Jedi‘s release in 2017. In an essay for The New York Times, Tran shared how the experience pushed her down a “spiral of self-hate,” so it truly is a triumph that she pushed through being relentlessly attacked by angry nerds to becoming a full-fledged Disney Princess.
Raya and the Last Dragon hits Disney+ Premiere Access on March 5.