You heard correct. Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi (aka Star Wars’ sunniest actress) has deleted all of her Instagram posts from her account after relentless harassment from a minority group of individuals. Her move follows months of racist and sexist comments from alt-right followers such as Paul Ray Ramsey, and after the Star Wars Wookieepedia entry was amended to include offensive language aimed at the actress.
Although she has a solid 191,000 followers on Instagram and her account is still active, there are now no posts to show, indicating that she has wiped her account of all previous content and interactions. It sucks that she felt like she had no choice but to delete all the good memories stored online because a handful of people made horrible comments. I mean, she’s basically the nicest person on the planet. Why would anyone have anything bad to say to her at all?
Tran has been an actress for over ten years and after facing many difficulties in trying to achieve a significant role, The Last Jedi was her first big screen break. She was noted for being the first woman of color to appear in a major role in Star Wars and was an important part of Finn’s (John Boyega) story, ultimately saving his life and helping him to progress. Rose is a Resistance hero with a difference: while not a pilot, a princess or a Jedi, she has an iron will and a passion for justice and freedom that has made her a fantastic heroine in her own right.
Even so, Tran has suffered criticism since the introduction of her character’s subplot: a lot of critics were cynical about what she achieved before others reasoned that her actions included saving Finn from harmful courses of action. Maybe at times she wasn’t given the best script, but for the most part she was funny, warm, and introduced that Western-style triumphant ride to freedom with Finn midway through, which for me was one of the high points of the film.
It makes me so angry that a few minority voices can have such a damaging effect on talented and charismatic people. Tran, who is known for befriending Star Wars fans in a pub and for her very real emotional response to being on the red carpet last December, seems to be the least likely person to have caused offense, but there are still people that have tried to pull her down.
In an earlier post, documented on Twitter, she stated that she
‘avoided public social media for a long time because [she] was afraid…of being picked apart, of being scrutinized, of being seen’.
Sadly, even despite her comments that ‘it’s none of my business if people like me or not, it doesn’t change my goals, my dreams’ – it seems as if this time the harassment has become too much. It just shows – people are fragile and even the most successful aren’t immune from getting hurt. This is exactly why it’s so important to build people up, not tear them down!
I’m sorry to see her go and hope that in the future such racist and sexist comments can be eradicated, especially for newcomers to big Hollywood hits and people of color. While Star Wars hasn’t been perfect as a franchise (most recently Solo has flopped at the box office) this is the first time in the new installments that such drastic action has been taken in response to the negativity of fans.
However, she does continue to keep thousands of supporters, and the overwhelming majority of Star Wars fans will no doubt continue to support its talented cast. A fandom as big as this inevitably faces backlash from haters, but I hope that Tran will come out of this knowing that she is a gifted actress with bags of talent, despite anything anyone might say otherwise.