Lana Condor rose to super stardom when To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before dropped back in 2018. She’s the girl that had everyone buzzing on the Internet: finally, a fresh take on romcoms where Asians weren’t the geeky sidekick. In To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lana Condor plays Lara Jean, a hopeless romantic whose love life finally gets a start when her love letters to her former crushes are sent. The Internet was obsessed with everything the film had to offer; an Asian lead, the gestures that’ll give you butterflies and outfits to die for. “I was in the subway and I met all these girls and I was like, ‘Hey you kinda look like you’re dressed up as Lara Jean!’ and the girl was like, ‘BUT I AM! I want to dress like her.’,” Lana excitedly recalls. “Being here, meeting these girls and being able to let them know how beautiful and important they are has been the greatest gift in my whole entire career,” says Lana.
Another thing that made the movie so loved was the chemistry Lana had with her co-star, Noah Centineo, who plays Peter Kavinsky. “When he wrapped [shooting a couple weeks prior] I wrote him a frickin’ love letter cause I felt like it was appropriate,” she laughs, “I basically said that I could not imagine being on this crazy journey with anyone but him. He’s a really really great friend of mine and now I can say that I do love him a lot so I don’t know what life would’ve been like if it wasn’t Noah Centineo playing Peter,” says Lana.
Will John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) steal Lana’s heart?
"Peter Kavinsky + Lara Jean = ship!"
The demand for representation in Hollywood has been rampant in the past few years. People want to see more than just the cookie-cutter image that’s been pushed for decades, they crave relatability. And that’s why To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before worked. Lara Jean is an awkward but loving character who falls in love with the man of her dreams, on her own terms. “We shatter stereotypes where Asians only fall in love maybe if we’re lucky. We’re just like everyone else. Yes, we have an incredible culture but at the end of the day I don’t see why we can’t fall in love with whoever we want.”
Lana’s passion to fight for Asian representation in Hollywood is absolutely commendable. While playing Jubilee in X-Men, she quickly realised that her job means nothing unless she firmly believes and wants to promote Asian representation in Hollywood.
“There’s definitely a lack thereof but I feel incredibly blessed that I’ve been given the opportunity to use my platform to change that. I don’t understand why casting directors look at us like ‘Maybe they can be the side character but not the lead’ ’cause I believe we should be the lead. I believe that we have so many stories to tell and what’s holding everyone back from hearing that?”
“I would love for them to see that we have a voice and that we are individuals. I think that there is a major misconception that we are all the same and that’s not true. Like when did all of a sudden you loop cultures?” she adds.
She champions that by showing that Asian people are threedimensional, and have a voice. They are more than their stereotypes. “We’re so diverse and so independent,” she continues, “And I think that the young women and men in Hollywood right now who are fighting against that are strong and powerful enough but we have to continue that dialogue because there’s a weird misconception.”
Like any love story, sides are bound to exist. Even after two years, fans still can’t help but wonder which side Lana’s on. “Ugh, this question, ruins me!,” she exclaims when asked if she was Team Peter or Team Josh. “This question keeps me up at night, but OK, I’ll always pick Peter over Josh, I’ll always pick him over Josh. Because at the end of the day, I believe in sister code. Lara Jean would never, no matter how much she loves Josh Sanderson she would never go for someone that her sister loved,” she said.
Here’s the catch. Enter John Ambrose in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and Lana confirmed something was up. “I keep putting on my social media like y’all ain’t ready for what John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) is going to bring to the table because he puts up a good fight.”
“John Ambrose is the carbon copy, male version of Lara Jean and she really loves that. She’s understood and never has to explain herself. It’s always comfortable. But with Peter, it’s not always comfortable; there’s a lot of unanswered questions. So it becomes the question: Does Lara Jean need to be with someone who challenges her and maybe makes her life chaos but at the end of the day, loves her through and through? I foresee people asking me who do you like Peter or John Ambrose and I’ll be like noooo,” she says.
For Lana, she believes that Lara Jean will always love Peter. “I do believe that, Peter helps her grow, Peter challenges her and as Lana Condor, in my relationships I always want people to help me grow and love me better so…”
When you play a character for an entire movie series, it’s no surprise that one might get attached and to Lana, Lara Jean is more than just a character. “Lara Jean has taught me that pure love is very real and you kind of find that with the right person,” she adds while joking that she’s about to cry, “She’s taught me to be unapologetic for who you are, set your standards and bar for love very high,” Lana tells us.
“Because at the end of the day, who you choose to give love and receive love from, that needs to be top notch. She’s taught me to be confident in unrealistic expectations because maybe those unrealistic expectations could come through! And also, wear whatever fashion you want, screw it, like if that makes you happy. Wear it,” she says.
Prepare to see Lara Jean grow in the sequels, it’s more than just the boys now. The sequels will really show her mind, her heart and who she will probably be for the rest of her life.
“By the third movie, you will see her completely supported, you will see her with an incredible friend group… the most exciting part of this whole franchise for me is that Lara Jean took Margot’s advice from the first movie. She did branch out and make friends, and now she knows what it’s like to be a part of a community. That’s the biggest change that you will see in her,” she reveals.
"Lana Condor plays Lara Jean"
“Lara Jean taught me to be unapologetic for who you are, set your standards and bar for love very high.”
TEXT AND INTERVIEW AINA NUR SARAH PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF NETFLIX