In Hollywood, some of the best on-screen performances emerge from actors who immerse themselves deeply into their roles. Some, like Kelly Marie Tran, make the effort to find personal ties to their characters in order to bring the stories they’re telling to life. She did it with Rose Tico, and continues to follow the same strategy in other roles she has played since then.
Speaking with StarWars.com, Kelly Marie Tran discussed how personal Rose’s story felt to her own life and how much portraying the character meant to her.
“Rose felt very close to me only because her family was from a war-torn planet where her parents were ripped from the place they lived, and that is what my parents went through,” she said. “So yes, culturally, it felt very much on the nose, almost. And the scene that her sister has before you even meet Rose — the idea that people are sacrificing themselves for a greater cause — I think is also a very cultural idea in my household, at least.”
As an Asian American, Kelly Marie Tran said that even in instances such as Star Wars when she’s not playing someone of that background on-screen — in a galaxy far, far away, for example, Rose and Paige are from a planet they were forced to flee — her culture is still embedded in the role she’s committed to playing.
“I think my job as an actor is to always personalize the characters I’m playing, even if I’m not purposefully being like, ‘Oh, let me imbue my culture,'” she said. “It’s so a part of who you are, that I think the roles that I’ve played have unintentionally been affected by the culture that I grew up in.”
When we speak about representation in the Star Wars fandom, it’s not always about actors playing “Star Wars” versions of themselves in movies and shows set in a galaxy far, far away. But sometimes it is. Diego Luna recently spoke about wanting to highlight Cassian Andor’s background as a refugee, a story he resonates with personally.
Like Kelly Marie Tran and Diego Luna, many Star Wars creators are using their personal stories to fuel their craft. At the heart of every good story is someone who “gets it” — and as Star Wars continues telling stories, this will happen more and more, allowing fans of all backgrounds to find stories and characters that speak to who they are and the life events that have shaped them.
Kelly Marie Tran is just one of many celebrity guests attending Star Wars Celebration this month! Check out the full list of Celebration panels if you’re heading to the convention to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
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