“Raya and the Last Dragon” star Kelly Marie Tran says there is an “unfair” amount of pressure that comes with taking on the role of Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess, due to the expectation that she be “extra grateful” to represent a historically underrepresented community.
“It should not feel so precious that there is something like this that exists in the world,” the “Star Wars” alum said Tuesday during “The Future Is Now: Next Gen Hollywood Roundtable” at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit. “There should just be so many. Do you know what I mean? I feel like sometimes when you are in an underrepresented group of people and you get this opportunity, you sort of have to do all of these mental Olympics of being like, ‘Oh, I have to be extra grateful because it will never happen again.’ And that’s such an unfair pressure to put on yourself.”
She added, “I think it’s something that I experienced with ‘Star Wars’ but also something that I’m experiencing again, which is the idea that our stories are valid and we deserve to tell them in any way that we want to and we deserve to tell them repeatedly from different angles. And it shouldn’t be just this one thing that we’re so desperate to grasp on to.”
Tran was sitting on the panel with fellow actresses Alisha Boe (“13 Reasons Why”), Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”), Storm Reid (“Euphoria”), Alexxis Lemire (“The Half of It”), Genneya Walton (“#blackAF”) and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (“Never Have I Ever”).
“I’ve sort of tried to let go of this idea that I have to represent or I have to be so grateful for something that obviously is a really, really big opportunity — but at the same time, I think that does us a disservice,” Tran continued. “Like, it’s not fair to think that this is going to be the only time that this happens. So I guess if there’s anything in my power that I can do to sort of take that pressure off anyone sitting here of being like, ‘I have to be so extra grateful and this is an extra honor.’ Like no, you also are really good and you deserve to be here. And I have to tell myself that every day. So I’m telling you right now, snaps for all of you for just existing in this world that just takes more energy to exist in when you feel like you have been other-ed.”
Readers can watch the full roundtable — with Tran, Boe, Feldstein, Reid, Lemire, Walton and Ramakrishnan talking about the changes they hope their generation can make in Hollywood — via the video above.
The Power Women Summit, presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The Summit aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s all-virtual PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe to promote “Inclusion 360,” this year’s theme.