Back in June, Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran deleted her Instagram after a series of online harassment. Afterward, her co-star, John Boyega stuck up for her and demanded the harassers to stop. Now, two months later, Tran speaking out about it for the first time.
"It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them," read the beginning of her personal essay in the New York Times.
She later continued: "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 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."
After going to a series of thoughts of where she questioned whether or not being thinner, having longer hair, or not being Asian at all would make a different, Tran had a realization that she "had been lied to."
"I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval," she wrote. "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. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place."
Now, she's working to change that—not just for herself, but for all women of color.
"I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white," she explained. "I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings." And she promises she will "continue to work toward" this world.
Star Wars' creators have notably been mostly white both on screen and behind the scenes. Thandie Newton, who starred in Solo: A Star Wars Story, became the first black woman to enter the Star Wars franchise. And as Tran notes in her essay, she is the first woman of color to have a leading role in the franchise's 40-year history.
Read Tran's entire essay here.