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Kelly Marie Tran Speaks on Mental Health, Representation, and 'Raya and the Last Dragon'

Kelly Marie Tran sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the backlash she has received as an actress and how she has built herself back up to be able to create such a project as 'Raya and the Last Dragon.'

Actress Kelly Marie Tran has been through a lot with the public, however she has learned many lessons on how to prioritize her own mental health. Now, the actress stars in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) as a warrior princess.

'Star Wars' Criticism

Kelly Marie Tran


Kelly Marie Tran portrayed the role of Rose Tico in both Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). Tran was the franchise's first woman of color in a lead role and received harsh criticism from hardcore fans, including racist and sexist insults.

Due to the hatred Tran received from the public, the actress understandably became closed off and deleted all of her posts on social media.

Relationship With Social Media

Kelly Marie Tran Instagram


Only a short two years later, Tran still does not post to her socials and, according to her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, may never again. Tran believes the balance between fame and mental health is a battle for anyone in her position.

"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. 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."

What She Has Learned Over Time

Tran has leaned on the support of her loving friends and family, continuing to push through the animosity everyday. Over time, the actress has learned that it is not her responsibility to manifest the hatred put on her.

"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. Maybe they just don't have the imagination to understand that there are different types of people living in the world."

The Sorry for Your Loss (2018-2019) actress has learned to become her own and use her voice to speak up.

"When the world is moving so quickly and there are all these voices saying 'If you don't do this, you'll never work again,' if you really come into your power and surround yourself with people who are honoring your voice and their own voices — I guess that's how I got through it."

Lead in Disney's 'Raya and the Last Dragon'

Tran now stars alongside Awkwafina in the new Disney animation Raya and the Last Dragon. The film marks Disney's first animated film directly inspired by Southeast Asian cultures.

Directed by Carlos López Estrada and Big Hero 6's (2014) Don Hall, Raya and the Last Dragon follows Raya on a quest to find the last dragon in Kumandra before the monsters, Drunn, take over for good.

The Pressure of Representation

The step forward in representation the film takes is historic, but also full of immense pressure. Prioritizing her mental health, Tran tries to not intimidate herself too harshly.

"I acknowledge and validate the label of these things being historic, and I'm so grateful to be part of them, but for my own sanity I have to not think about that too much."

To see Kelly Marie Tran star in the new animation Raya and the Last Dragon, checkout Disney+ or watch in theaters on March 5th.

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