Kelly Marie Tran is speaking out for the first time about the harassment that drove her to wipe her Instagram earlier this year. After the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Tran became the target of online trolls who used the comments section of her account to relentlessly vent their frustrations with the film and to attack her personally with sexist and racist insults. While an army of fans came to her defense, Tran has mostly laid low since then, not even publicly confirming the reason she deleted her past posts. But in a New York Times op-ed published on Tuesday, Tran finally explained that what drove her offline wasn’t just the harassers’ comments themselves, but that she began to believe them.
“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, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories,” she writes, recounting instances from her childhood that similarly made her feel less-than, including that her parents, who are Vietnamese, felt obligated to take Western names. Tran herself uses the name “Kelly Marie Tran” professionally, but her real name is Loan.
In the rest of the op-ed, Tran challenged the attitudes that drove her to question her self-worth and expressed her commitment to changing them:
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.
This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward.
She concluded with a powerful assertion of her heritage and identity: “My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.” The message is particularly resonant in the wake of a major breakthrough for Asian-American representation on screen: Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood movie in a quarter of a century to feature an all-Asian, majority Asian-American cast.
Tran’s essay was met with support on Twitter, including from some of her Star Wars collaborators: