The actress deleted her social media in June 2018 and wrote an op-ed about her experience in August 2018

By Georgia Slater
December 11, 2019 11:13 AM

Kelly Marie Tran is reflecting on how she was able to stay strong while facing the online harassment that followed her casting announcement for 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The actress, 29, who starred as resistance fighter Rose Tico and is set to reprise her role in this month’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, appeared on Yahoo’s Build Series Monday where she opened up about the importance of staying mentally healthy, especially when people are trying to put you down.

“It’s funny, because I realize that it was a big moment in culture,” Tran said of becoming the first Asian American actress to star in the franchise.

Kelly Marie Tran
Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

“But for me, it’s not something that I use to define my identity by,” she continued. “I think there’s a tendency for, when someone experiences something like that, to feel like they’re defined by that, but I think I realized through that whole experience, I’m like, ‘Oh, no, I get to decide which narrative I’m playing in my mind. I get to decide who I am.’”

In August 2018, Tran deleted her Instagram account due to the online harassment she faced, and is still not a member of the big social media platforms today.

Two months later, she opened up about persevering through the “self-hate” and broke her silence about the marginalization of minority groups in a New York Times op-ed titled, “I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment.”

Looking back at her decision to publish the story, the actress explained in her interview Monday that it’s “really important to realize that, regardless of who you are and what you’re in and what you’re associated with, being able to be honest and vulnerable and sort of take care of yourself mentally is a very … wildly important thing.”

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Credit: David James/©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

“It’s something I didn’t understand until I got into this,” she admitted.

“Reminding yourself that you are not alone and it is OK. These are the biggest things,” Tran said.

“Anytime you are sort of confronted with a situation that increases your fear and your anxiety if you allow that voice to be silent and if you allow yourself to sort of isolate yourself, I think it gets worse. So the best thing for me was just being honest and talking about it.”

Despite her online trolls, Tran, born Loan Tran, explained in the op-ed she is focused on leading by example; most importantly being a voice for minorities, including women and people of color.

“I am not the first person to have grown up this way. 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 worthy of love only if we are deemed attractive by its sons,” she wrote.

“This is the world I grew up in, but not the world I want to leave behind,” Tran poignantly said, adding, “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.”

Tran will appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, opening Dec. 20.