Getting to know Netflix’s latest leading lady.
Photos by Brandon Hicks
On the surface, Lana Condor is your smart and witty girl next door who also happens to be drop-dead gorgeous. But when you get a chance to know her a little more, you’ll find that her story’s much deeper than that. As a high school drama-class alum whose career is seriously popping off rn (she stars as Lara Jean in my current fave Netflix Original Movie, To All the Boys I Loved Before), Lana still finds time to mentor and help put young girls through school with her very own charity organization. Lucky for us, she was down to take time out of her busy sched to play dress up at Nasty Gal HQ whilst blowing bubbles, giving us the deets on how being adopted has influenced her perspective and everything in between! Check the full story below.
Let’s start with the basics, how did you get into acting?
I started acting professionally about 3 years ago, but I’ve been acting since high school in drama class.
It wasn’t a personal choice–my dad made me take drama as an elective. He was like, “you’re so dramatic Lana, you need an outlet to express yourself”. He was absolutely right and I’m glad that he made me take the class because if I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be doing this at all.
“I think my favorite part about my new found platform is that I can speak about the importance of helping others.”
When was the moment you were like, “this is what I want to pursue”?
I think it was actually in high school. I’ve always been an entertainer–my background is in dance. I always knew I wanted to entertain people. In high school, we had this competition where schools in the Los Angeles area get together and do skits and compete against each other. I remember doing this little sketch where I played a character named Wasabi which is like the worst…but I performed it on stage in front of my school and everyone was laughing and really loved it. I realized then that I want to make people laugh. That was the moment I was like wow, I don’t just have to entertain people through dance, I can entertain through words and make people feel good. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to do it as a profession.
Do you still take dance classes?
No, as soon as I figured out acting, I threw dancing away pretty quickly [laughs].
You have a new movie out right now, To All the Boys I Loved Before, what was your favorite part about playing Lara Jean?
I can’t believe it’s out! It’s really refreshing to play a character that has a good heart and is your girl-next-door–she’s just real. She’s so unapologetic for the way she is. She’s a little bit more old-fashioned–she writes letters, she likes baking, she doesn’t really want to go out and do anything. I relate to that so much. If I can stay home, I’m staying home. She has such a good heart and that’s so satisfying to play as an actor.
How would you handle a crush differently than Lara Jean?
I’m a lot more straightforward. That’s the whole reason why she writes letters, because she’s too afraid to let people know how she feels. I’m more transparent in the sense that I tell people how I feel. I’m not trying to play games. It’s like, do you like me back? No? Then I’m moving on.
What’s your fave romcom?
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
“What you’re feeling in the moment, especially in middle school and high school, that feeling goes away.”
What do you love most about having a platform for your work now?
I started this foundation that puts Vietnamese girls through school. I was adopted from Vietnam so it’s really important for me to remember what could have easily been. After this movie, I was able to start a foundation and host girls, pay for their education and their bikes to get to school and their stipends for four years. We spend that kind of money in LA on maybe a night out for dinner. So I think my favorite part about my new found platform is that I can speak about the importance of helping others. That’s the most exciting part for me–letting people know about this foundation and putting girls through everything.
What would be your message to younger girls?
What you’re feeling in the moment, especially in middle school and high school, that feeling goes away. If you’re having a tough time, you will get past it. I think that’s so important because I remember when I was in high school, when I was bullied or I had my heartbroken, you feel like it’s the end of the world. Now on the other side of that, it’s so much better. Those feelings are temporary. I want to tell my younger cousins that too because high school sucks sometimes, but all the bad emotions go away.
Who inspires you most?
My parents are a huge inspiration for me. They have the biggest hearts ever and I love them so much. They inspire me and they’re so positive and encouraging. You need that, you need positive encouragement. They have such a healthy mindset on things. And Emily Blunt–her career inspires me. She can do it all. She can go from The Devil Wears Prada to A Quiet Place and it’s so believable! Her range is endless.
Watch To All the Boys I Loved Before on Netflix now, and keep up with Lana Condor IRL here.