There is arguably no film franchise as massive and beloved as Star Wars. Spanning generations, there are millions of fans who flock to theaters every time a new main installment or standalone film is released. But the fandom is also hard to please, and Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi was met with some serious backlash when it was released in December of 2017. Most of the mud was thrown at director Rian Johnson and Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran. Tran faced such a barrage of hate that she left social media altogether. And although her fans and co-stars have come to her defense, Tran recently addressed her departure for the first time, saying:
It wasn't their words, it's that I started to believe them. 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. Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was 'other,' that I didn't belong, that I wasn't good enough, simply because I wasn't like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.
That's certainly honest and emotional, and you can understand why Kelly Marie Tran decided to step away from social media. While she was making history as an Asian woman starring in the Star Wars franchise, her race was also what trolls attacked most often from the safety of their computers. And it seems it was all too intense and painful for the actress, forcing her off social media so she could do some self-care, and avoid the negativity.
In her personal op-ed at the New York Times, Kelly Marie Tran also revealed the other ways that her online critics attacked her, other than her race. Furthermore, it apparently was so constant that she started to believe the hate, letting the social media attacks affect her sense of self. As she revealed,
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.
Her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi may have introduced the actress to an absolutely massive audience, but it certainly took a lot out of Kelly Marie Tran. Luckily she was eventually able to identify the source of her strife and distance herself from it, so hopefully Tran is feeling better about her role in the galaxy far, far away. With Episode IX currently filming, the emotions and pressure must be high for everyone-- especially Rose Tico herself.
Kelly Marie Tran will return to the Star Wars franchise when J.J. Abrams' untitled Episode IX arrives on December 20, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.