[EXCLUSIVE] Lana Condor On To All The Boys, Noah Centineo And How Important Representation Is
Lana Condor rose to super stardom when To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before dropped back in 2018. The classic romcom bit with a fresh take, an Asian lead, something nobody has seen in Hollywood before. But for Lana, the series means so much more. 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 that came up to me and I was like, ‘Hey you kinda look like you’re dressed up as Lara Jean!’ and she 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.”
Another thing that made the movie so loved was the chemistry Lana had with her co-star, Noah Centineo. There’s no denying that it was off the charts! In an interview, she mentioned that they had an agreement between them and although it wasn’t signed, sealed delivered like the movies, the love they have for each other was clear. “He wrapped a couple weeks ago and 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.”
Like any other love story, sides are bound to exist. Even after 2 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 okay, 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, not ever would Lara Jean ever, no matter how much she loves Josh Sanderson she would never go for someone that her sister loved.”
Here’s the catch. Enter: John Ambrose in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. “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 of does Lara Jean need to be with someone who’s comfortable and who she feels safe with or 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 a very long press tour of people asking me who do you like Peter or John Ambrose and I’ll be like noooo.”
But for Lana Condor, 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 become an important part of her life. “Lara Jean has taught me that pure love is very real and you kind 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.”
“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.”
Prepare to see Lara Jean grow in the sequels, it’s more than just the boys now. Lana explains that the sequels will really show you her mind, her heart and who she will probably be for the rest of her life.
“By the 3rd movie, you will see her completely supported, you will see her with an incredible friend group… that has been actually the most exciting part of this whole franchise for me is that Lara Jean, she took Margot’s advice from the first movie. She did branch out and she did make friends and now she knows what it’s like to be a part of a community and that’s really really awesome so I think that’s the biggest change that you will see in her personally.”
View this post on Instagram
The demand for representation in Hollywood has been rampant for 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, because it spoke to the audience, people could relate to it. Lara Jean is an awkward but loving character that falls in love with the man of her dreams, on her own terms. “I think that we shatter stereotypes where Asians only fall in love maybe if we’re lucky. We shatter that. We’re just like everyone else, yes we have an incredible culture but at the end of the day like 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, stating that while playing Jubilee in X-Men, she quickly realised that her job means nothing unless she firmly believes and wants to promote/excel 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. I don’t understand that cause I believe that we should be the lead. I believe that we have so many stories to tell and what’s holding everyone back from hearing that?”
When asked what she’d like the media to see, Lana says that she’d love for the media to know that we’re not just what you see in the past. The misconceptions. “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?”
“The reason why I’m doing this job is because I want to show the Asian culture, that we’re 3-dimensional human beings that have a voice. We’re not a stereotype. We’re so smart and we’re so prideful and we’re confident and we are brave and we have so much more to give than a computer nerd. Which I am by the way, yes I am a computer nerd!”
“We’re so diverse and so independent,” she adds, “And i think that the young women and men 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.”