Famous Friday – Lana Condor

“To me, a modern American girl doesn’t look like any one thing,” the author of the book-turned-movie explained. “And when I look at the people I know, so rarely is anyone just one thing and I wanted to acknowledge that and honor it in this story.”

 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a popular new teen romance film that debuted on Netflix this month. It is based on the novel by Jenny Han. The film stars 21-year-old actress and dancer Lana Condor as Lara Jean Song Covey. Lara Jean is the middle of three sisters. The story is about Lara Jean writing love letters to her secret crushes. She does not send these letters, but somehow, they find their way to the boys’ mailboxes.

I chose to feature Lana Condor for this week’s Famous Friday both because of who she is in real life and the character she plays in this film. Lana is biologically Vietnamese but transracially adopted by American parents. The character she plays, Lara Jean, is multiracial, specifically hapa, with a white father and a Korean mother who has previously passed away. While the characters’ ethnicity is a part of who they are it is not a crucial part of the plot. Condor’s costar, Janel Parrish is quoted as saying, “Our lead just happens to be Asian American.” While I agree that our race doesn’t define us, a point of note to the Project RACE community, however, is that the three sisters in this story refer to themselves as the “Song Sisters,” even though their actual last names are Covey. They do so because they say the world sees them as Asian. We know that, despite what some may believe, it is not the world who gets to decide how we identify.

Lana Condor grew up in Chicago but her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 15. She has a brother who is also adopted. She made her big screen debut as Jubilee in the 2016 superhero film X-Men: Apocalypse, but this is her first lead role. Condor must be an amazing dancer because she studied ballet with some of the best, the Joffrey Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She took acting classes at the New York Film Academy and Yale Summer. As a high school freshman, Condor attended the Professional Performing Arts School in New York. She has been accepted to Loyola Marymount University but has several film projects lined up, including the coming-of-age romantic comedy Summer Nights so we will have to see if she ends up going.

-Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens, Co-President

Photo credit: Bustle.com