'Star Wars' actress deletes Instagram posts after months of harassment from trolls
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kelly Marie Tran played Rose Tico, a mechanic who joins Finn on a journey to help the Resistance. Tran is the first lead female of color in the Star Wars series, and told Variety that bringing diversity to the franchise has been "an honor and a responsibility." "A lot of ‘Star Wars’ fans who are specifically Asian never had a character they could dress up like," explained Tran. "Or they would [dress up] and people would always call them ‘Asian Rey’ or ‘Asian fill-in-the-blank.’ I get very emotional when I see people who are able to identify with this character."
But not everyone is thrilled with Tran's inclusion in the Star Wars universe. For months, trolls have harassed the actress on social media, criticizing her physical appearance and Asian ethnicity. In December, The Huffington Post revealed that someone altered the "Wookieepedia" page for Rose, adding offensive racist and ableist slurs. In addition, alt-right Internet personality Paul Ray Ramsey tweeted a cruel "joke" about her body.
Many Star Wars fans defended Tran, but apparently the negative comments have taken their toll. Last night the Star Wars fan account tweeted, "Kelly Marie Tran has deleted all the posts off her Instagram due to months of harassment she has received for her character Rose in #TheLastJedi." When you visit Tran's Instagram page, all the posts are gone, as if they were obliterated with a Death Star. There's just a black and white profile picture and her one-line bio: "Afraid, but doing it anyway."
It's a shame Tran deleted her post, because fans loved her adorable, uplifting content. Recently she shared an adorable story about overhearing Star Wars fans discuss her character at a restaurant. "After lots of creepy listening — and eating — I awkwardly walked over to introduce myself," wrote Tran. "They couldn’t be more lovely. What an incredible moment in a string of incredible moments I’ve been experiencing lately." If only all of her experiences with Star Wars "fans" were this positive.
Tran isn't the first Star Wars star to wipe out her social media. Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the new movies, deleted her Instagram account in 2016. Reportedly she posted a message supporting victims of gun violence, and faced a nasty backlash. "It’s not good for me, personally," she told People in December. "I’m just not equipped for it. I’m super sensitive—not too sensitive—but I really feel things." The 25-year-old actress even went to therapy to deal with Star Wars fame.
Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, commented the controversy, defending Star Wars fans as a whole. "On social media a few unhealthy people can cast a big shadow on the wall," wrote Johnson. "But over the past 4 years I’ve met lots of real fellow SW fans. We like & dislike stuff but we do it with humor, love & respect. We’re the VAST majority, we’re having fun & doing just fine."
The Last Jedi got a polarizing reaction from Star Wars fans. But whether you loved it or hated it, we can all agree no cast member should be harassed by online trolls.