Kelly Marie Tran has described her experience with cyberbullying and harassment during her time on the “Star Wars” franchise as something like an “embarrassingly horrible breakup.”
The Vietnamese American actress, 32, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday to talk about her return to movies following her experience with online harassment and cyberbullying.
Tran said the ordeal felt like she “fell in love very publicly and then very publicly had an embarrassingly horrible breakup.”
Tran vanished from social media in 2018 after being constantly harassed by “Star Wars” fans for her role as Rose Tico in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Months after that, Tran appeared on Good Morning America and revealed she had to undergo therapy because of all the harassment.
“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 THR. “Maybe they just don’t have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world.”
“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,” the actress said about the time she took a break from the Internet. “It was basically me being like, ‘Oh, this isn’t good for my mental health. I’m obviously going to leave this.’”
After her time with “Star Wars” and before signing to “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Tran said she left the industry and said no to any offers given to her.
“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,” Tran said. “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.”
The actress had to do a lot of soul-searching after the experience.
“There was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this,” Tran said, adding, “And I needed to find that again.”
Despite all that’s happened, Tran still believes there are positives to every experience, she told IndieWire.
“I think there’s always good and bad things about an experience. But the thing that I want to keep with me is that looking for the good is the most important thing,” Tran explained.
Tran became the first Southeast Asian to lead a Disney animated film after joining the cast of “Raya and the Last Dragon.” She replaced Filipino Canadian actress Cassie Steele for the role of Raya.
She even offered suggestions on Vietnamese words and pronunciations in the movie.
“I’ve never had this experience before where I’ve looked at sides and read words that were taken from the Vietnamese language,” she said.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is set for release in select theaters on March 5. The animated film will also be released on Disney+ Premiere Access.