Kelly Marie Tran owns ‘real’ name and stands tall in the face of online harassment

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Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran has spoken out about online harassment for the first time since she deleted her social media accounts.

She is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and became the first woman of colour to play a lead in the franchise. However, her appointment was met with heavy racial abuse, and she was forced to delete her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

And for the first time since then, she says she refuses to be cowed by racists.

The 29-year-old penned a New York Times op-ed in which she recalled the acute racism she was confronted with as a child, and how that wound was picked again by bigots condemning her Star Wars role.

The actress was cast as mechanic-turned-Resistance fighter Rose Tico in 2017's The Last Jedi.

She writes:

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.

I believed those words, those stories, carefully crafted by a society that was built to uphold the power of one type of person - one sex, one skin tone, one existence.

The abuse ‘awakened something deep inside me - a feeling I thought I had grown out of. The same feeling I had when at nine, I stopped speaking Vietnamese altogether because I was tired of hearing other kids mock me.

But that wasn’t to last, she said. Tran, whose real name she revealed to be Loan, said she refuses to be ‘brainwashed’ any longer.

I want to live in a world where children of colour 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, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill was one of the first to praise the actress for her words.

Tran ended her essay with the following, empowered words:

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," she added.

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