Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran has hit back after being targeted by racist, sexist trolls a few months back.
The online hate become so intense that the star wiped her Instagram account clean of all posts and stayed away from social media to avoid the harassment
Now, she has hit back at her haters in a powerful piece via The New York Times where she says that she “won’t be marginalised” by abuse.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” she begins the essay.
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.
And 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.
And it was then that I realised I had been lied to.
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. 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.
She empathised with other victims of bullying, stating that she isn’t the only person who is being targeted based on her race or gender.
I am not the first person to have grown up this way. This is what it is to grow up as a person of color in a white-dominated world. This is what it is to be a woman in a society that has taught its daughters that we are worthy of love only if we are deemed attractive by its sons. This is the world I grew up in, but not the world I want to leave behind.
I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. 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.
She went on to say that while the online bullying hit her hard, the experience led to personal growth and self-discovery and she’s ready to continue with her career despite the backlash.
These are the thoughts that run through my head every time I pick up a script or a screenplay or a book. I know the opportunity given to me is rare. 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.
You might know me as Kelly.
I am the first woman of colour 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.
Read the full piece via The New York Times.