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Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran Recalls Not Thinking She’d Get The Role Of Rose Because She’s An Asian Actress

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

There are popular movie franchises, and then there’s Star Wars. Generations have been brought up on the galaxy far, far away, and landing a role in a Star Wars movie is a dream for countless actors out there. That includes Kelly Marie Tran aka Rose Tico, who recently recalled not thinking she’d get her Star Wars gig because she’s an Asian actress. 

Kelly Marie Tran made her Star Wars debut in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, playing Resistance worker Rose Tico. She’d go on to reprise her character in The Rise of Skywalker, albeit in a much smaller role. In honor of AANHPI Heritage Month, Tran was interviewed for the Star Wars website, where she explained why she didn’t originally think she’d be welcomed into the space opera. As she put it,

I never thought to myself that I would actually get it because, again, I keep going back to this idea, this culture of belief, but like, I grew up watching those movies and they are all white. So I just was like, 'Oh, I'm obviously not gonna get this, but one day I'll tell my grandchildren how lucky I was to audition for this thing, and that was a cool thing that I did.

There’s been a ton of conversation over the last years about the power of representation, and Hollywood’s need to tell diverse stories. Kelly Marie Tran’s comments definitely highlight the disparity in the business, as she didn’t even think that she had a chance to land a Star Wars role. Because it was previously a cosmic story that largely focused on white protagonists.

But we all know how this story ended, as Kelly Marie Tran would end up getting a dream job as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Unfortunately, this gig also opened up the young actress to a ton of online hate. Later in that same interview, Tran described what it felt like getting her signature role, and why it felt so significant for the industry as a whole. In her words,

It was twofold. The first emotion that I felt – and I try to remind myself of this – was just pure joy and pure ecstasy. It felt like being high, it was like, oh, my God. It's the same thing that I think happened for my parents where something in our brains just changed, when it was suddenly the idea that impossible things were possible and that there's room for everyone. Like that just changes you as a human being.

Indeed, the Star Wars sequel trilogy was a much more diverse place, with other major franchises following suit in the years that followed The Force Awakens. The most recent movies followed a female protagonist, and featured actors of color like John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran in major roles.

As previously mentioned, Kelly Marie Tran faced some backlash after debuting as Rose in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She’d eventually leave social media as a result, while also starting therapy. In recent years the fans have come to her defense, but it was obviously a long road for The Raya and the Last Dragon star

Kelly Marie Tran has a number of upcoming movies coming down the line, titled The Young Wife and Me, Myself & The Void. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.