- “The Last Jedi” actress Kelly Marie Tran wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times Tuesday addressing the online harassment she experienced for months.
- Toxic Star Wars fans wrote racist and sexist comments on her social media accounts and in edits on Wookieepedia (a Wikipedia of sorts for “Star Wars”).
- In the op-ed, Tran wrote that the hateful language led her “down a spiral of hate.”
In June, Kelly Marie Tran – who plays Rose Tico in “The Last Jedi,” and is the the first woman of colour to have a large role in the Star Wars franchise – deleted all of her Instagram posts after receiving online harassment for months. Her account still existed, with “Afraid, but doing it anyway” written in the bio.
Tran addressed the racist and sexist online harassment she experienced in a powerful op-ed published in The New York Times on Tuesday. In the op-ed, she wrote that the online harassment took her “down a spiral of self hate.”
Tran faced racism and sexism online surrounding her casting in “The Last Jedi.” For instance, in December 2017,someone edited the Rose Tico Wookieepedia page (a Wikipedia of sorts for “Star Wars”) so that her name was “Ching Chong Wing Tong” and her home was “Ching Chong China.”
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran wrote. The op-ed addressed how the aggressive online harassment made her feel. Tran also explained how feelings of invalidation because of her gender and race were evident before she became a target of “Star Wars” fans.
“Those words awakened something deep inside me – a feeling I thought I had grown out of,” Tran wrote. Tran said that her entire life, she’d felt like an “other” because she was Asian. Through media and Hollywood (and more), she was taught that because she was Asian, she existed in the margins: always supporting characters played by more desirable people.
Tran also went into more detail about the dark period that the words said to her online provoked.
“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.”
Tran wrote that she wanted to live in a world where children of colour don’t grow up wishing they were white, a world where women are not scrutinised.
“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.”
At San Diego Comic Con in July, Rose Tico cosplayers rallied in support of Tran. The rally was organised by Nerds of Colour, a site devoted to inclusion in nerd culture including films like Star Wars, superhero movies, and video games. Tran is not only the first woman of colour to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie: she is also the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair.
“And I am just getting started,” she wrote.
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