An Emotional Interview with Rose Tico: The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran is the Star Wars Heroine My Asian Daughter Has Been Waiting For. This post is sponsored by Disney. All galactic opinions are my own. #TheLastJediEvent
Why Kelly Marie Tran is the Star Wars Heroine My Asian Daughter Has Been Waiting For
Interview Photos by Louise Bishop of MomStart.com
I had a Star Wars epiphany moment this week. It’s taken my entire childhood and a good portion of my adulthood to realize why I wasn’t super obsessed with Star Wars like both of my brothers are (I’m adopted, remember?). Subconsciously, I didn’t have a Star Wars hero that looked like me and that I could identify with growing up. I never found that piece of myself to cling to, in any the films. But now? WOW. W O W. Today is the day that my entire Star Wars history changes. But even more importantly than that, today is the day I get to watch my daughter’s entire Star Wars history change.
I am the mom of an Asian daughter who will finally have the Asian Star Wars heroine that my childhood craved.
But then to actually meet this Star Wars Asian heroine, prep a question that took (I kid you not) 2 weeks to fully formulate, ask the question (while shaking in nervousness), cry during her answer and then stand right next to her for the group photo – I couldn’t have asked for a better Kelly Marie Tran interview. That day, this post, this MOMENT is history in the making. And oh, it goes live the very day that Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out in theaters. Icing on the cake. So what was that all-important question I asked? How is this former office assistant turned superstar actress handling the spotlight? What did she have to say about Carrie Fisher? And what can we expect of Rose Tico, the unlikely heroine? The interview of my life, y’all. Are you ready to meet The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran? Because I need a moment. This interview is PACKED with amazing quotes from an up and coming actress who’s already changing the world, starting with me.
The Auditioning Process
I think one of my favorite things about interviewing new actors is getting their backstory. Because their one shining moment – it gives people like you and me hope. It’s a rags to riches, feel-good story. And I have nothing but praises for Kelly Marie Tran’s story.
The first audition I had was back in 2015. At this point I had been pursuing acting for about seven years. It took me years to just get a commercial agent, much less a theatrical agent. Then it took me years to begin auditioning for commercials. And then into TV. I never could get into the room for movies. This is probably one of the two or three movie auditions I ever was allowed to go to.
So that first audition came in and I remember thinking, this is crazy. There’s no way I’m gonna get this. That feeling traveled with me from the beginning to the very end. And it served me, because I was so sure in my mind and in my heart that I wasn’t going to get it, that I was free to be present and have fun. I’m just gonna have fun with the people who are here. It was a five-month audition process. It included a surprise chemistry with John Boyega. Then the final test was in London in full hair and makeup.
Landing the Role (and first cry of the interview)
Her first response to getting the role of Rose Tico? She imagined excitement. But she got something else.
I had imagined this moment for so long. I thought that I would be so ecstatic, and I’d be jumping up and down. When it happened, I was so scared. I just was silent for a full minute. I was just staring at the floor. I was treading water for so long, I never thought I would get to the end of the pond. Or the lake. Whatever it is. I never thought that I would actually get there. So I never thought ‘this is what I’m gonna do when I get there.’
Running Away From It All & How Carrie Fisher Brought Her Back
It wasn’t all puppy dogs and kittens after accepting the role. Emotions overflowing, lying to her family, and landing the acting job of a lifetime, Kelly Marie Tran was on the brink. But it was the amazing Carrie Fisher that helped her find her center again.
I never thought that I would be in a position where I would be in a movie like this, and then possibly have a choice in terms of what projects I did next. I never knew that I would have a voice. So when I finished that movie, I ran away. For seven months I went to travel. I really wanted to center myself, and really think about why I got into this in the first place.
I tend to overanalyze everything, but I do think it’s important to consider what you put out in there into the world. There’s so much noise now. There’s so much of ‘look at me! Look at me!’ And I didn’t want to be part of that noise if that’s possible. I just remember thinking how scared I was. I wasn’t on social media for a very long time. And it’s because I was scared of being seen, and being honest in that way. I think that Carrie was such a great example of that, of just being seen always openly, honestly, unapologetically, not being ashamed of who she was. I want to try as much as I can to be that way. We live in a world where we tend to hide a lot of our flaws, and we try to put on makeup and dresses, and all these things. And I’m just like…if we all just were okay and open with all of our insecurities, ’cause we all have them, and we’re all not perfect, then maybe the world will be better. So I’m trying to do that.
Why She Never Saw Star Wars Growing Up
Unlike most childhoods, Kelly Marie Tran wasn’t from a Star Wars household. But not seeing Star Wars was a ‘gift.’
Star Wars is such a family oriented thing. A lot of parents had seen the original movies, passed on to their kids. My parents, when the first movies came out, were still in a different country. My parents are both Vietnamese refugees. They aren’t from this world at all. So growing up I didn’t watch Star Wars. I was aware of it. I never really saw it. And I think that that gave me this kind of wonderful freedom. When I was auditioning for this movie I never thought to myself ‘How can I make this more like something I had seen? How can I make this more like the characters that are so iconic to all these people?’ I had this gift of being able to look at that paper, and just be what I thought was honest and what I thought Rian had written onto that paper.
Obviously after you get [the part], you watch all these movies, and there’s nothing but just amazement, especially those original films. You watch them now and they’re still incredible, and how innovative they were during the time, and the idea that they were so groundbreaking when they first came out. I do think that they continue to do that in this film. In ways [The Last Jedi] will also be groundbreaking.
Embracing Rose Tico
Kelly Marie Tran is Rose Tico. And it’s because of The Last Jedi that she learned to embrace her character in such a way that will stay with her for life.
I love this character. I think that she’s amazing. I think that she’s different. I think that a lot of the things that she goes through in this movie, I relate to on a personal level. I always believed that if you work hard and you’re a good person, you will get where you want to go. But experiencing it is a whole different thing. And I think if you’re talking to me, personally, spiritually, it’s really changed the way I look at the world. I really want people to know that if your parents are not in this world, if you have no connection to it, if it seems impossible, if you’re working four jobs to support it, you can’t pay off your student loan bill, if you’re worried about all that stuff and you still want to do this, and if you keep going, and you put your head down and ignore all the people that don’t believe in you, I just think it’s possible, and I always have. I believe that even more so.
Diversity in Film, The First Asian Heroine, & Changing the Future of Star Wars
Oh yes, I went there. If I could compact all of the “feels” into one question, I absolutely did. 2 weeks of planning brought me to this moment, when I would get to ask Kelly Marie Tran the one question that had me shaking and instantly blinking back tears. “So the character of Rose has done so much for diversity in film and changing our perspective of Star Wars. What are you hoping that Rose’s character accomplishes once we actually see her in action, for yourself and for future Star Wars generations, who now have a strong female Asian role model to look up to?”
I thought about that a lot. It feels like such an honor, but also a lot of pressure. I knew what it was like to grow up in a world where I never saw myself in anything. I would like to hope that in some way, this character is such an example of someone who doesn’t necessarily belong in this world. She works in maintenance. She works behind pipes all day. She’s not a star pilot. She doesn’t have magical powers. She’s not a princess. She’s someone who is just in every woman, essentially.
These people, you don’t necessarily see in these stories, but that are so crucial to the idea of the resistance. Without these people that are fixing the ships, Poe couldn’t go fight the First Order! So of course, they’re important. But no one ever really sees them, or talks about them. They’re always just running around in the background. If this character could mean anything, I really hope that she portrays the idea that even if you are someone who’s kind of in the background, who’s not in the spotlight, who’s not a princess, you can still make a difference. You can still rise up to any challenge that comes to you.
She hit the nail right on the head, as if a whole 30-something years of my existence could be summed up into that one answer. Kelly Marie Tran felt just like me growing up, in a world where she didn’t see herself anywhere. I felt that strongly, especially in film. But today, today changes everything. I can point out that hero that looks like me. My daughter can point out that hero that looks like her. The world can now find that one piece of Star Wars that they can identify with. Rose Tico is changing a universe. And I’m watching it all in such awe.
Don’t cry, Kelly Marie Tran is here to save the day! Have you been following my #TheLastJediEvent Journey? Catch up on the exclusive insider info and interviews right here:
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi Press Conference + Video
- Gwendoline Christie | Return of Captain Phasma
- Laura Dern Interview | Who Is Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo?
- Domhnall Gleeson Interview | General Hux’s Time of Desperation
- The Best from the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Press Event Experience
- A Press Event That’s Making Star Wars History
- Disneyland Holidays + Star Tours -The Adventure Continues
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now in theaters everywhere. Witness a piece of Star Wars history for yourself as we discover Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, aka the first female Asian heroine in Star Wars.