Kelly Marie Tran Singapore
Kelly Marie Tran with moderator Norman Tan at at the Apple Store on November 26, 2017. ©Geek Crusade

She’s about to reach hitherto unknown levels of fame with her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Kelly Marie Tran is in Singapore to tell us all about it.

Best known for appearances in short films and television episodes before she was cast in Episode VIII two years ago, Tran is still letting it all sink in.  “I’m telling you now, I still don’t believe it happened,” the 28-year-old told an audience of about 150 during an hour-long meet-and-greet at the Apple Store on Sunday (November 26).

After all, Tran was an office assistant for “years” and worked a variety of “weird jobs” while pursuing the dream of a career in Hollywood.

Now, Tran portrays Rose Tico, a member of the Resistance who plays a key role behind the scenes. Her older sister Paige (Veronica Ngo) is also with the Resistance, but it’s Rose who teams up with Finn (John Boyega).

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega). Photo: David James/ILM/© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Fans at the session were also treated to a short featurette on Tran and her character, during which director Rian Johnson revealed that it was her chemistry with Boyega that won the producers over. Unfortunately, it was exclusive to fans at the event, so we couldn’t film it.

While there were understandably no great revelations from the session, the San Diego native (how apt!) endeared herself to many fans with her bubbly, cheery nature. Quite simply, she feels like one of us fanboys/girls, especially with this revelation, “I love Porgs, you guys. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m like, weirdly obsessed with them. I made my own costume for Halloween, I dressed up as a Porg, it was a thing.”

Well, here’s what Tran looks like as a Porg:

Although Tran did spark a mini-uproar when she revealed that BB-8 is her favourite droid. But then again, she didn’t grow up with Star Wars, instead being a “huge” Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fan.

Tran praised fellow cast members such as the late Carrie Fisher, saying, “I don’t know if there’s a word to describe Carrie Fisher. I like to say that she doesn’t have a definition, because she is so incredible. I think I didn’t realise how great it was for a person to be that open and that honest on such a public scale.”

Unfortunately, Tran couldn’t reveal if Rose has any scenes with General Leia, though she did spend time with Fisher. But Tran also had warm words for Boyega:

@kellymarietran talks about working with @johnboyega #starwars #thelastjedi #Singapore #Apple

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Predictably, the theme of representation came up, since Tran is Vietnamese-American. She told the audience that she is greatly aware of “Star Wars fans that have been thirsty to see themselves reflected in a character”. After all, as she says, “I grew up always wondering when I would see someone like myself in a movie – and now I’m in a movie.

Here’s more images from the session:

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And most importantly: we got our selfie!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in Singapore on December 14.

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