Lana Condor is an LG fave. We’ve been obsessed with her since August when her charm and capability exploded off the screen in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Today I realized that while we’ve been falling for Lana Condor, we still don’t know a lot about her. Part of that has to do with the fact that Lana has a done a few less profiles than say, Noah Centineo, but it’s also because she’s been on location in Vancouver, away from paparazzi or star-studded Halloween parties. But even if she wasn’t, Lana doesn’t seem like the headline-seeking type. She seems too pure to play that game. Lana’s wholesome aesthetic and her “childlike optimism” are the focus of her feature in Who What Wear.
The writer, Faith Xue, teeters on a tone of condescension and bewilderment at Lana’s bubbly personality. The feature almost gave me Lin-Manuel in Vanity Fair vibes (please read Duana read VF for filth if you haven’t yet) because we don’t learn much about Lana aside from the she “smiles when she speaks,” and that her personality is so effervescent “it could be grating if it weren’t so damn endearing” (rude). But when the writer isn’t throwing subtle jabs at Lana’s enthusiasm, she is giving insight into the background of Hollywood’s newest It Girl. That title of “It Girl” isn’t usually given to young women who look like Lana. The fact that Lana is Asian American is a key component of her story in the industry. Lana talks about her struggle auditioning in Hollywood.
“As I kept auditioning and working in the industry, I started being more aware that there was a possibility certain projects didn’t hire me because of the way I looked… I’ve never been more aware of my Asian-ness and female-ness than in the film industry.”
Lana’s “Asian-ness and female-ness” is why Lara Jean is such a quietly radical character but it also might be why there isn’t as much attention or roles being thrown her way as her whiter and male co-star. She’s faced the same struggles as every other actress who looks like her but because her Asian American experience is unique, the legitimacy of that experience has been called into question. Lana was adopted by white American parents in Vietnam when she was a baby.
“I’m 100% Asian, and I’m also 100% American… That’s something that I’m really trying to let people understand. My Asian American experience is different from someone else’s Asian American experience, and that’s okay. There are moments when I feel that people don’t think that I’m Asian enough because I was adopted by an American family. To me, that’s so silly!”
It is silly but it’s not surprising. Lana’s optimism is brought up again when she says with full sincerity that she wants her next role to be a WWII war hero.
“You know Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge?” she asks me without skipping a beat. I say I do. “Well, I’d love to play him, but the female version… I wanna do a war film! I’ve watched Hacksaw Ridge so many times and I love the characters, and I have this fascination with war films and that’s what I want to do next. So we shall see!”
The writer uses this example to prove that Lana sees the world through “rose-coloured glasses.” Asian American women did play an integral role in WWII so it’s not that far-fetched. Hollywood just needs to invest in this story. The only cynicism then –the cynicism that Lana is lacking—is the belief that Hollywood would make this movie. This is where I find her positivity inspiring even if it is a bit naïve.
“I think [the industry] is changing… I think so many people are talking about representation, and the industry is feeling it. I feel it in my heart.”
The face of Hollywood IS changing and Lana is one of those faces. I just hope she keeps this energy throughout her sure-to-be long career in an industry that works hard to turn people jaded.
Up next, she’s got Deadly Class, the sci-fi series I yelled at you about last month. Then she’s got Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel and the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before sequel. Lana is going to be busy. For now, she’s got every right to be optimistic.