Kelly Marie Tran is back, and she’s got a message to share. After deleting her social media presence this summer, the Star Wars actress is responding to the harassment that prompted her to take a break. Now, Tran is ready to address the situation, and she is proving her strength with a gorgeous New York Times editorial.
Earlier today, the NY Times posted Tran’s first response following her much-discussed social media leave. The essay is penned by the actress in the first-person, and the deeply personal piece reflects on why Tran ultimately chose to step away from the intense harassment antis were sending her.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran began. “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.”
Continuing, Tran explains how the backlash against her role in Star Wars as Rose Tico only enforced a narrative she heard her entire life. As a woman of color, Tran says her Asian heritage often made her feel like an “other” in a white-dominated world that she could never live up to.
“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,” Tran wrote.
“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,” she added.
However, Tran explained she has since come to realize the deep insecurity she felt was not a product of her own creation but of one pushed upon her.
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. 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,” the actress continued, saying she is motivated more so than ever to create a world where such biases don’t exist.
“I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up,” she added.
In the essay’s final moments, the actress promised her long journey has only just begun, and she has no plans to be silenced. In fact, the actress goes so far as to reclaim her real name, Loan, a traditional Vietnamese name meaning lucky bird.
“You might know me as Kelly,” the star continued. “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.”
What do you make of this empowering response? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!