“Star Wars” actress Kelly Marie Tran has returned to social media since abandoning popular platforms like Instagram in June, after being terrorized by online trolls.
But she is resurfacing online with an unmistakable message for those anonymous, hate-spewing thugs who, initially, sent her into e-hiding.
That’s all over now, Tran said.
“I’m not giving up.”
Tran, who starred in the much talked about “The Last Jedi,” wrote a powerful essay for the New York Times, in which she admits to internalizing much of the venom spewed at her online, but after coming to a key realization, now clearly says “I won’t be marginalized.”
Since leaving Instagram in June after being bullied about her ethnicity and appearance, Tran has remained quiet, until now. Her words, much like the movie she starred in late last year, are meant to inspire millions.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she said in the opening of her essay, explaining that that’s what hit her the hardest from the bullying she suffered a few months back.
“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.”
Tran went on to write about painful past bullying that, at the age of 9, compelled her to stop speaking her native Vietnamese after she grew tired of children mocking her. It’s these recent attacks that brought back those horrible memories she had buried, she wrote in the essay.
“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,” Tran said in the essay, adding that society had taught her that she only existed to do “their nails,” or for “diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests —- and perhaps the most damaging —- waiting for them to rescue me.”
In the “Last Jedi,” Tran’s character Rose was no damsel in distress and waited on no man to rescue her in any way.
But after the bullying, Tran questioned her weight, her hair length and her ethnicity for months “of self-hate” where she admits “I put their words above my own self-worth,” before realizing one simple fact:
“I had been lied to.”
“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,” she wrote. “And it was in this realization that I felt a different shame -— not a shame for who I was, but a shame for the world I grew up in. And a shame for how that world treats anyone who is different.”
“This is what it is to grow up as a person of color in a white-dominated world,” she continued in the essay. “This is what it is to be a woman in a society that has taught its daughters that we are worthy of love only if we are deemed attractive by its sons. This is the world I grew up in, but not the world I want to leave behind.”
Tran poured her heart onto the page as she explained in the essay that she dreams of a world where “women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance” and “where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.”
Then she adds possibly the most important line in her entire, heart-felt essay — “I am not giving up.”
“You might know me as Kelly,” she continues. “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.”
After the essay was published, one of Tran’s biggest supporters, “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson praised the actress yet again, writing “Here’s one of my very favorite people, speaking straight from her heart.”
Actresses like Brie Larson have also shared Tran’s story with their followers to raise awareness.
Here are others who have spoken out, supporting the actress and also sending a clear message to anyone perpetuating hate online.
Kelly Marie Tran is a boss and a hero. https://t.co/omEweANK0e
ABC News and Lucasfilm are both part of parent company Disney.