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Star Wars Star Kelly Marie Tran Says She’ll Keep Fighting After Racist Troll Harassment
In early June, Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran left social media after months of being harassed by racist, sexist trolls. Tran had endured the disgusting assault since she was cast as the Resistance fighter Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, facing hatred by “manbabies”—as director Rian Johnson calls them—who believe Star Wars should be a franchise led by white male heroes.
Now, nearly three months later, Tran has made her first statement since leaving social media, writing a powerful personal essay in the New York Times in which she states that she’s not giving up.
In the essay she outlines her childhood where she repeatedly faced racism and a feeling that she was an outsider who didn’t belong. And the words from those trolls, she says, only reinforced the narrative that she had been taught her entire life. Then, she writes, “I realized I had been lied to.”
I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place.
Tran writes that this is the world that she grew up in “but not the world I want to leave behind.”
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 … I know the opportunity given to me is rare. I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.
It’s a powerful essay, one that you should absolutely read in full on the New York Times. And it comes at a pivotal time in Hollywood. Along with Tran, a number of other high profile actresses have been driven off social media by trolls, including Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, fellow Star Wars star Daisy Ridley, and just last week, Ruby Rose who was recently cast as Batwoman in a CW role.
While there’s still an overwhelming long way to go, this year Hollywood has begun to make an effort, with massive successes like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. As long as there is progress there will always be trolls trying to stop it, and it’s good to know people like Tran will continue to fight back.