Before making her debut as Resistance mechanic Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kelly Marie Tran had been trying to “make it” for about a decade. The Vietnamese-American star had been working odd jobs and auditioning for roles for years. By the time she got cast in Star Wars, her acting resume consisted of some CollegeHumor skits, a web series she shot with friends, and improv shows. She told Entertainment Weekly:
“I remember thinking, ‘This could be my life forever,'” she said. “Like, I could just never make it. I could work this hard for the next 20 years of my life and still be struggling.”
Tran was used to being offered acting jobs that only played on her ethnicity, so gigs had always been scarce. When she got offered the role, she was excited about sharing the news with her family, until she realized that she couldn’t, as all aspects of the movie were being kept secret. She lied and told her mom, dad, and two sisters that she’d booked an indie film in Canada.
Now, she is the first ever Asian-American woman to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie—which is currently the highest-grossing film franchise of all time—and has finally paid off her student loans. While it is not clear how much she owed, the average monthly student loan payment for a borrower in their 20s is $351 and the median monthly payment is $203. Newcomer Star Wars actors make between $100,000-$300,000 per film. Enough, Buzzfeed reports, that Tran “finally paid off her student loans.”
Tran writes in one of her enthusiastic, emotional posts on Instagram, “My heart is so full, and my goals are so clear. Let’s tell more stories.”
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