Kelly Marie Tran isn’t going anywhere — except maybe on social media.
The former “Star Wars” actor wiped her Instagram account in June 2018 due to months of racist and sexist online harassment after becoming the franchise’s first woman of color in a lead role. And she told The Hollywood Reporter in a profile published Wednesday that it’s unlikely that she’ll resurrect her once very-relatable account.
“I’ve truly just been so much happier without being on the internet,” she told the magazine. “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.”
Aside from the jab at members of the Kardashian klan, who have been criticized for hawking questionable dietary products on social media, the Vietnamese American actor does admit to some kind of online activity, however.
Tran — who will become Disney’s next animated princess when “Raya and the Last Dragon” debuts in theaters and Disney+ Friday — engages in something she describes as “one-sided social media,” in which she keeps herself informed on current events and trending topics. But she also says she imposes “extreme limits” on herself when reading any kind of criticism about her 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,” she told THR. “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.”
In 2017, Tran starred as Rose Tico in “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.” Shortly thereafter, the now 32-year-old actor began experiencing extreme online harassment. Her Instagram account was flooded with racist comments; she was trolled and body-shamed on Twitter; and Rose Tico’s page on the “Star Wars”-oriented Wookieepedia website received a brief but extremely racist character description.
A 2018 USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism report also found that even Russian trolls played a part in Tran’s harassment on Twitter. The study found that almost 51% of the negative tweets surrounding “The Last Jedi,” including those attacking Tran, were “politically motivated or not even human.”
Tran told THR that after the onslaught of online abuse, she relied on her friends and therapy to get through it — and learned something important from the latter.
“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,” she told the magazine. “Maybe they just don’t have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world.”
To read the entire profile on Tran, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.
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