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21/08/2018 17:00 BST

Kelly Marie Tran Pens Powerful Op-Ed On Effect Of Racial Harassment From 'Star Wars' Fans

'This is what it is to grow up as a person of color in a white-dominated world.'

‘Star Wars’ actor Kelly Marie Tran has said she refuses to be marginalised by online harassment, after some of the franchise’s fans attacked her with racist abuse. 

In a defiant op-ed written for The New York Times, the star spoke for the first time since deleting her Instagram in June. 

Kelly told of how months of abuse had led her to a period of self-doubt.

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Kelly Marie Tran

“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, only valid as a minor character in their lives and stories,” she wrote. 

“And those words awakened something deep inside me ― a feeling I thought I had grown out of.

“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.”

Kelly joined ‘Star Wars’in most recent film ‘The Last Jedi’ as Rose Tico, and in doing so, became the first woman of colour to have a lead role in the franchise. 

Lucas Film

She said the racist attacks she received as a result of her casting had reinforced microaggressions she and her family has faced over the years, which led them to do things like changing their names “so it was easier for others to pronounce”. 

However, Kelly Marie later had a “realisation that she had been lied to” and is not how she wants to continue leading her life. 

She wrote: “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 only worthy of love 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.”

Finishing off the powerful letter, she added: “You might know me as Kelly. 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.”

Read Kelly Marie Tran’s full open letter over at The New York Times

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