Kelly Marie Tran: It shouldn’t be my place to ‘internalize their misogyny or racism’

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Kelly Marie Tran covers the latest issue of the Hollywood Reporter to promote herself, her journey through toxic male bullsh-t and her new movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. A few years ago, Tran was the victim of one of the worst and most toxic hate campaigns we’ve ever seen. It was because of her role in The Last Jedi, a poorly executed film with a terrible story. Instead of blaming Disney, LucasFilm, the franchise, the screenwriter and the director, toxic bros began attacking Kelly Marie Tran for daring to be an Asian-American woman with lines in a Star Wars film, as if she wrote that character herself. They were genuinely attacking her for existing. Disney didn’t do much to protect her and neither did the bros of the franchise, but Disney did hire her to voice the lead character in this animated film (Raya), so here we are. You can read THR’s piece here. Some highlights:

Deciding to wipe her IG after the toxic hate campaign online: Tran’s decision to wipe her Instagram — all that remains is a one-line bio: “Afraid, but doing it anyway” — in June 2018 made headlines, to her consternation. “What’s interesting to me about working in this industry is that certain things become so public, even if you don’t really mean them to be, [like] the succession of events in which I left the internet for my own sanity. It was basically me being like, ‘Oh, this isn’t good for my mental health. I’m obviously going to leave this.’ ”

The experience of being a victim of that racist & misogynistic hate: Tran says the whole experience felt like she “fell in love very publicly and then very publicly had an embarrassingly horrible breakup.” She leaned on her tight-knit pre-fame circle of friends, including the members of her all-Asian American female improv troupe Number One Son, and went to therapy, where she learned, “If someone doesn’t understand me or my experience, it shouldn’t be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Maybe they just don’t have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world.”

She took a break: “I left. I said no to a lot of things. It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. And I realized, I didn’t know how I felt anymore. And I didn’t remember why I was in this in the first place. Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world — read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again.”

Now she’s playing the first Southeast Asian Disney princess: “I understand why there’s that sort of label on the things I’ve done. As a kid, I saw people working in this industry and thought they were somehow elevated human beings, and that if I ever got to that place, I would never feel any insecurity or doubt, and that’s just not true. So I acknowledge and validate the label of these things being historic, and I’m so grateful to be part of them, but for my own sanity I have to not think about that too much.”

She’s unlikely to return to social media. “I’ve truly just been so much happier without being on the internet. I’ve had my agents tell me [I’m] forgoing brand partnerships, but I’m not here to sell flat-tummy tea to young girls.” She admits she engages in what she and her friends call “one-sided social media,” in which she’s very aware of current events and trending topics, but she self-imposes “extreme limits” when looking up reactions to her own work. “We can talk about the interaction between mental health and social media, but also mental health and this idea of fame and what it does to you. It is not normal. For me, that navigation is about how I protect myself in a way where I can continue to work in this world, and continue to lift the stories that I feel like the world needs to hear.”

[From THR]

I hope Tran was not the only one to learn a lot of lessons from that entire debacle. I hope that Disney learned a lot, and I hope other studios and other corporations watched how it unfolded too. It would be wise for major corporations to have plans in place for when their – typically – female employees are being harassed, abused and even doxxed online. As for Tran’s current approach… she can do or not do whatever she wants, and I hope producers, directors and brands want to work with her MORE. She deserves the world.

Cover & IG courtesy of THR.

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9 Responses to “Kelly Marie Tran: It shouldn’t be my place to ‘internalize their misogyny or racism’”

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  1. Merricat says:

    What they did to KMT was criminal. I agree that she deserves the best.

  2. Sofia says:

    I haven’t watched a single Star Wars movie (have no interest) but the hate campaign against her from the fanboys was terrible. Her, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac were treated horribly.

  3. Darla says:

    It’s unbelievable how toxic the Star Wars fan base is. DC is up there, but I think Disney’s is worse. Marvel has their own incel squad, as evidenced by the online reaction to Brie, but it’s not as widespread. It’s very disheartening for women fans. And I’m white, so I can kind of imagine how much more upsetting is for women of color who are fans. Just disgusting stuff.

    • Aang says:

      I used to enjoy Stat Wars. I had a huge crush on Harrison Ford when I was a kid, Indiana Jones was my fave but Han Solo was great too. Now I can’t even watch SW anymore because the toxic fandom ruined it.

  4. Jay says:

    This was such a poignant quote, that it’s not her job to change the heart of racists and misogynists, and how much she has obviously worked not to internalize the hate levelled against her. One of the final indignities of a world built on racism is that we constantly ask people of colour to be the ones to convince us or educate us (white people) out of our racism. Exhausting.

    • Watson says:


    • Su says:

      Jay, you nailed it! As a half Asian woman it really isn’t my job to educate anyone. Honestly, treating people with respect and kindness should be intrinsic.

  5. lucy2 says:

    It’s infuriating how she was treated, and how the big corporate machine allowed her to be treated, sidelining her character in the last one (I liked the Last Jedi, and her in it). She seems like a really great person, who has miraculously come out of all that strong and focused on what she wants. I’m impressed, and look forward to her future projects.
    Also, she looks fabulous in this photoshoot, very glam.

  6. Emmy Rae says:

    I REALLY like that cover!