Star Wars: The Last Jedi introduced the world of Star Wars fandom to Kelly Marie Tran, but when trolls began directly attacking the actress on social media, some going so far as to lob sexist and racist comments at her, she wiped clean her social media presence, with the actress likening the experience to a "horrible breakup." Ahead of the film's release, Tran was chronicling all of the joys of getting involved in the franchise on her various platforms, only for the release of the film to spark a backlash targeting her and writer/director Rian Johnson to almost entirely displace the positive experiences she was having prior to the film's debut.
"What's interesting to me about working in this industry is that certain things become so public, even if you don't really mean them to be, [like] the succession of events in which I left the internet for my own sanity," Tran explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "It was basically me being like, 'Oh, this isn't good for my mental health. I'm obviously going to leave this.'"
She describes the public chronicle of these highs and lows of the experience as being like she "fell in love very publicly and then very publicly had an embarrassingly horrible breakup."
Tran added, "If someone doesn't understand me or my experience, it shouldn't be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Maybe they just don't have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world."
Sadly, that wasn't the first time toxic trolls targeted specific individuals connected with the recent Star Wars films, with John Boyega also being the subject of racism from certain audiences, alongside Daisy Ridley also going on to delete her social media accounts after being inundated with harassment from users.
Tran's process of coping with the situation ultimately led to some major personal revelations.
"It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. And I realized, I didn't know how I felt anymore. And I didn't remember why I was in this in the first place," Tran confessed of the coping process. "Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world — read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again."
Tran stars in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, which hits theaters and Premium VOD on March 5th. There are currently no confirmed plans for Tran's Rose Tico to return to the franchise.
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