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  • Writer's pictureJoe Russell

Kelly Marie Tran

Kelly Marie Tran is a lovely human being. Since I have a story about her, I figured I would share it. This was motivated by my recent finding of a short note I wrote to myself back in 2012 that said "Never filming in Lancaster ever again." I wrote that after surviving a 2 day shoot there back in 2012. We got some great shots there, but I also got heat stroke! My feature film XOXO had scenes that we simply had to film in Lancaster... so, I had to go back. This time, with a bus full of actors and crew.

On XOXO, I had a pretty simple goal. Make the best film we could, while having a good life experience. I knew that Lancaster was going to be difficult because of the heat, the isolation and the fact that we were all going to be packed onto a bus for most of the 2 days. I wanted to make sure that we hired genuinely nice people who also happened to be very talented. This, of course, included the actors who would play roles on these bus scenes.

We auditioned 10 people for "Butterfly Rave Girl." After watching the tapes, it was clear that Kelly was our pick. Not only was she very truthful in her performance, but she was also genuinely nice to everyone at the audition (including the other actors who were auditing against her.) Certainly she wanted the part... but you could tell that she was kind of rooting for everyone there as well.

It was so rewarding to send her that offer letter and, as expected, she was awesome to have on set. It can be tricky to really own a character when you just have a few lines, but she did it. She was earnest, confident, happy and inclusive. It was not long after shooting XOXO that I learned she earned the role of Rose in the Star Wars film The Last Jedi. I had emailed her to tell her how great she was in the dailies of XOXO and then when I invited her to the premiere she responded with "I am sorry I can't be there, I am in South Africa!" How amazing! Most people went to see a Star Wars movie, but I really just went to see her. It was clearly no mistake that she was chosen. I could not imagine a better Rose.

I can't speak for the folks in Hollywood that I have never met, but I can tell you with certainty that Kelly's rise to being a household name and an inspiration to girls everywhere is fully deserved. She is an amazing actress, an amazing person and I love that she has had a chance to spread her voice. If everyone were more like her, we would all be better off.

Kelly is also responsible for catapulting me into what I call "Lifetime Hero Uncle" status by mailing my nephew Gauge (pictured below) a sweet little package filled with autographed Star Wars memorabilia.

The force is certainly with Kelly Tran. :)

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