Kelly Marie Tran is optimistic about the power of positivity that movies can bring.
While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, the 32-year-old actress spoke about her latest film, Raya and the Last Dragon, and how she hopes the movie will bring "joy" amid a difficult time for the Asian-American community.
Tran, who stars as the first Southeast Asian Disney princess in the family film, shared that hearing of the violence against AAPI, or Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, has been "really, really difficult," as it caused her "to feel so many feelings at once."
"It's such a difficult time for the Asian-American community, and I think it hits everyone different," she said. "… I think for me, something that has been really strange about it is that I'm here talking about Raya, this movie that is celebrating this part of the world — which very rarely gets to be celebrated — and having that sort of dichotomy of celebrating this part of the world and then also acknowledging these horrible things that are happening at the same time, has been a really wild experience."
Tran said she hopes that her film will "give people a little bit of joy in the middle of this really tumultuous thing."
Hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report released by Stop AAPI Hate revealed that there have been at least 3,795 hate incidents targeting the AAPI community from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. More than 500 of those incidences occurred in 2021.
Findings of a different study of police department statistics recently showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, despite hate crimes overall dropping by 7%.
The report, issued by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, analyzed data on hate crimes in both 2019 and 2020 from authorities in 16 of America's largest cities.
The findings show that New York City saw the largest increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, rising from 3 reported instances in 2019 to 28 in 2020, while Boston and Los Angeles also saw increases in reported attacks from 2019 to 2020: 6 to 14 in Boston and 7 to 15 in Los Angeles.
Recent disturbing attacks on — and racism against — Asian Americans has prompted several celebrities, including Olivia Munn, to come forward, calling for an end to the hate.
According to a recent Harris poll, 75 percent of Asian Americans are fearful of increased hate and discrimination toward them.
Raya and the Last Dragon is streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access.
To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.
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