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Kelly Marie Tran Opened Up About Social Media Harassment and Her Decision to Leave

Kelly Marie Tran at the virtual red carpet for Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon.

Kelly Marie Tran is one of the strongest people out there. Starring as Rose Tico in Star Wars was no easy feat and was made that much harder by the gross racist and sexist attacks thrown at her by “fans” of the franchise. I say “fans” because they are not the kind of people who learned anything from this series that they claim to love.

In the midst of the horrible behavior aimed towards Tran for simply … playing a character in The Last Jedi, the actress left social media and has yet to return. I don’t blame her at all. The Raya and the Last Dragon star spoke with Teen Vogue about how leaving social media felt like a “bad breakup” and the normalization of harassment for those in the “public eye” on social media platforms.

“We’re living in a world where we’re all constantly being bombarded all of the time with so much stimulus, and I don’t know that we are all conscious of the ways in which it affects us,” Tran said. “For me, I knew that the most important thing was to protect my mental health, and make myself a space where I felt like I could create again and where I could be an artist again, which for a time, I didn’t know if I could do that again.”

She went on, stating, “That being said, I don’t think leaving social media is the answer for everyone, I think it was the answer for me in the moment. I recognize my own privilege and understand that there are some people who have to be on social media for their work and their positions, and… the thing about it that makes me really upset is just what you were saying in the beginning of us initially speaking, where it’s like, why are we as artists, or as writers, or as creators in the spaces on social media, why are we the ones that have to normalize receiving harassment? That should not be okay.”

And she’s very right. As someone who writes about Star Wars for a living, I’m supposed to just handle men in my emails yelling at me about things or being told that I should just appreciate whatever someone says to me and not fight back, even if I know that I’m right. We’re constantly thrown into this strange dynamic where we’re in the public and talking about something that is popular, and so we’re supposed to just grin and bear whatever insults are thrown our way. For what?

Kelly Marie Tran was attacked for playing Rose Tico because she was an Asian woman in Star Wars. It’s that simple. People try to explain away their “dislike” of her character, but the racism was there before she even showed up onscreen. The sexism exists with people hating that she’s there at all. It’s horrid, and hopefully, in the future, Disney and Lucasfilm do a better job protecting their artists from backlash like that—especially in the world of Star Wars.

But I’m happy for Kelly Marie Tran for finding her own balance because she’s an incredible performer, Rose Tico was amazing, and I just want her to be happy and healthy away from the toxic fans who attacked her for existing in Star Wars.

(via, image: Youtube/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.