Soon after its release last Christmas, The Last Jedi was caught up in a digital shitstorm that can be traced back to a very small (and very vocal) portion of the Star Wars fanbase calling on Lucasfilm to erase Episode VIII from the official canon.
And things didn’t stop there. All over social media, Kelly Marie Tran, the actress behind Resistance mechanic Rose Tico, was harassed by a number of spiteful trolls, ultimately leading to the moment back in June when she left Instagram altogether.
Now, thanks to The New York Times (h/t CBM), Tran is back, and she’s making a stand against the hateful bullies who tried so desperately to box her into a corner.
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. And those words awakened something deep inside me — a feeling I thought I had grown out of.
The same feeling I had when at 9, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me. Or at 17, when at dinner with my white boyfriend and his family, I ordered a meal in perfect English, to the surprise of the waitress, who exclaimed, ‘Wow, it’s so cute that you have an exchange student!’
The actress fully admits that the bullying became too much to bear, not least because she’s dealt with marginalization umpteen times before while growing up as a Vietnamese-American woman. To her credit, Kelly Marie Tran remains defiant that she’s “just getting started” after making a splash in the biggest franchise in entertainment.
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.
In the wake of The Last Jedi, Kelly Marie Tran is expected to reprise the role of Rose Tico late next year for Star Wars: Episode IX. And it’s good to see her standing up to the trolls even at such an early stage in the sequel’s lifecycle. Its ETA? December 20th, 2019.