Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Kelly Marie Tran Makes History with a New Disney Project — Facts about the Actress

Oyin Balogun
Sep 01, 2020
07:40 A.M.
Share this pen

Asian-American actress, Kelly Marie Tran, snagged a place in history in August 2020, becoming the first Southeast Asian actress to play a lead role in a Disney animated film.


For the 31-year-old actress, Kelly Marie Tran, leading a Disney animated movie was more than just a career breakthrough. Being the first to achieve the feat, the "Raya And The Last Dragon" star has made history through her role in the Disney production.

Kelly Marie Tran attends AARP's 17th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 5, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images


Tran, who has achieved several other significant feats since making her entertainment debut in 2011, has become a sought-after figure in the last decade. 

Since overcoming the phase of cyber-bullying and racist backlash, Tran now focuses on her career and attaining greater heights.

Her record-breaking deal garnered her even more popularity, making her a worthy topic for the tabloids. What then is known about this trailblazing Hollywood icon?

"Star Wars" actress Kelly Marie Tran talking to Variety about how her life story mirrors that of Rose Tico | Photo: YouTube/Variety



Famous for her roles in the "Star Wars" franchise, Kelly Marie Tran is a successful American actress. She starred as Rose Tico in the Lucasfilm production, reprising the role in subsequent releases.

Tran was born on January 17, 1989, to Vietnam refugees who came to the United States to escape the Vietnam war. She grew up in San Diego, California, where her dad worked at Burger King, and her mom, in a funeral home.

Following her high school graduation, Tran attended the University of California, where she obtained a BA in communication. Soon after that, she set out in pursuit of her acting career.


Kelly Marie Tran talking about the force of women in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" on "Good Morning America" | Photo: YouTube/Good Morning America


Although Tran delved into acting in 2011, her stint on "Star Wars" marked her big break, garnering her global recognition. Before starring in the Lucasfilm production, the entertainment icon made appearances in short films and television.


Kelly Marie Tran landed her role as the rebel mechanic, Rose, in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," in 2015. Four years later, she reprised her role in the 2019 sequel, "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker."

The 31-year-old went on to star in the mystery thriller podcast, "Passenger List," and in the Facebook Watch series, "Sorry For Your Loss." Tran took up several other projects, breaking long-standing records in her wake.



One of Tran's biggest challenges in Hollywood was competing in the industry as an Asian actress. Admittedly, her ancestry and looks limited the roles she could play, giving her a competitive disadvantage, like other people of color in America.

However, the icon somehow harnessed this major disadvantage to her favor, making history as a result. Her first record-breaker came following her role as Rose on "Star Wars." 


The role made Kelly Marie Tran the first Asian-American woman to snag a lead role in a "Star Wars" film. She broke another record two years later when Vanity Fair featured her on the front cover of its Summer 2020 publication. 

She appeared alongside co-stars John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, making her the first Asian woman to make the magazine's front covers.

In 2020, she landed another major gig as the title character in the Disney production, "Raya And The Last Dragon." The role made her the first southeast Asian to play the lead character in a Walt Disney animated film.



Remarkably, achieving her trailblazing feats exposed Tran to widespread publicity, which in turn left her a vulnerable target for bullies and critics. More prominent among them are individuals who despise her roles or acting just because she has Asian heritage.

Kelly Marie Tran has dealt with internet bullying, major criticisms, and racial comments thrown at her. The racist backlash that followed her initial casting in the "Star Wars" franchise took a significant toll on her. 

Tran once admitted she began believing everything racists said about her. Eventually, she deleted all her posts on Instagram. Following months of enduring racial harassment, the Vietnamese-American icon learned to deal with the abuse and eventually lived through it.



Since overcoming the phase of cyber-bullying and racist backlash, Tran now focuses on her career and attaining greater heights. Some of her latest projects include playing the part of Raya in "Raya And The Last Dragon," and landing the role of Dawn in "The Croods: The New Age."

Kelly Marie Tran also landed another gig with Disney, as Val Little in the soon-to-be-released series, "Monsters At Work."

Additionally, Tran has also opened up about her intentions to branch into movie production and directing. The world can hardly wait to watch more of her trailblazing endeavors pay off.