Tran scripted history and became the first woman of colour to be cast in a lead role in the Star Wars franchise. Her character in the series was an inspiration to countless Asian-American women and girls who crave for onscreen representation. However, her performance was not celebrated. Dozens of fans posted sexist and racist messages and comments on online forums. Fans even attacked her on her personal social media pages for playing the character of Rose Tico in Star Wars. She shunned social media last year. In June this year, she deleted all her Instagram posts.
In an essay published on Tuesday in The New York Times, the actress spoke about experiencing racist cyberbullying and being marginalized as a woman and as a citizen of Asian descent. The actress wrote it "wasn't their words, it's that I started to believe them".
She asserts that the harassment she received has made her question if she would ever be sufficient in a society which prioritizes whiteness above all. The actress that after those incidents, she started blaming herself and started believing that her existence was "limited to the boundaries of another person's approval."
“The same society that taught some people they were heroes, saviors, inheritors of the Manifest Destiny ideal, taught me I existed only in the background of their stories, doing their nails, diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests — and perhaps the most damaging — waiting for them to rescue me,” Tran wrote in The New York Times essay
Tran said, "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 realise 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."
She continued: "I believed those words, those stories, carefully crafted by a society that was built to uphold the power of one type of person -- one sex, one skin tone, one existence."
The daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Tran, was born in America. She stated that she grew up feeling like she didn't belong to them because she was different.
Tran asserts that this has made her to forget about her own culture and even her parents had changed their names so that it is easier for other native Americans to understand. She called it as "a literal erasure of culture" that haunts her.
In the end, she revealed that her real name is Loan. She concluded, “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.”
Deepali Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV