Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran has spoken out for the first time since racist and sexist abuse over her role in The Last Jedi forced her to quit Instagram.

The Vietnamese-American star – who became the first woman of colour to play a leading part in the iconic series – deleted all of her posts on the photo-sharing network after being targeted by online trolls.

She received public backing from director Rian Johnson and Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, but the 29-year-old had not spoken about the abuse since shunning social media almost three months ago.

In a powerful piece published in The New York Times on Tuesday, Tran – who played Resistance fighter Rose Tico in the film – said the abuse reminded her of the struggles she had trying to fit in while growing up in the US.

Image: Tran starred as Resistance fighter Rose Tico in The Last Jedi

"Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life," she wrote.

"That I was 'other', that I didn't belong, that I wasn't good enough, simply because I wasn't like them.

"It reinforced within me rules that were written before I was born, rules that made my parents deem it necessary to abandon their real names and adopt American ones – Tony and Kay – so it was easier for others to pronounce, a literal erasure of culture that still has me aching to the core."

Image: Daisy Ridley also faced sexist abuse online over her big presence in the new films

Tran – who is also the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair – went on to criticise those who continue to scrutinise people of different races, religions, genders and sexual orientations.

Some of her Star Wars colleagues have been sent similar abuse, with Daisy Ridley quitting Instagram because of sexist comments about her role and franchise producer Kathleen Kennedy accused of "killing Star Wars" by some fans because of the introduction of more female characters since the series returned in 2015.

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In the wake of the release of The Last Jedi last Christmas, one aggrieved fan unhappy with the number of women in lead roles released an edited version of the film without any of them in the film.

It was described as "the chauvinist cut" by its anonymous creator, who said he had removed "Girl Powah and other silly stuff" – including "bomber heroism by china girl" (a reference to Tran's role).

Tran said she was committed to using her position in Hollywood to push for greater tolerance, diversity and equality in the industry and society generally, adding: "I know how important that is and I am not giving up."

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Signing off her New York Times piece, Tran wrote: "I am the first woman of colour to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started."

Tran will return for Star Wars: Episode IX, which is due for release on 20 December 2019.

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