Create & Cultivate 100: Entertainment: Lana Condor

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Lana Condor was 2018’s It Girl. Between her starring role on the Netflix adaptation To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and her part as Jubilee on X-Men: Apocalypse, Lana has built a fan base far and wide. And from the looks of it, 2019 will be no different—Lana is starring in Deadly Class, a Syfy series based on the comic of the same name. She’s proving she’s got quite the character range, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

You have quite the varied fan base! Many of us know you for your role in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but you also have a ton of fans from your role in X-Men: Apocalypse. What did you enjoy about working on such different films?

For me, one of the best parts of this career is the fact that it’s never boring and I get to do such different things every day, and also meet incredibly diverse people. X-Men: Apocalypse truly changed my life and so did To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but both in very different ways. X-Men: Apocalypse was my first experience and job in the industry. So it really kind of threw me in with the sharks. I learned the basics for what it means to work on a film set and the standards of professionalism, based off my amazing co-stars. I got very lucky on that set that I had such great role models to look up to and learn from, and I’ve definitely brought what I’ve learned from that cast with me throughout the rest of my career. X-Men also taught me what it like to be in a big studio film and the responsibilities that come with representing a franchise! To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was my first leading role, and that movie gave me a chance to kind of exercise the leadership characteristics I learned from watching my co-stars in X-Men. I truly loved working on both, even though they were so different from each other, it was such a thrill to be a part of both projects.

What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?

I think one of the biggest highlights thus far in my career has been being on Jimmy Fallon. I’ve watched him religiously for years now, so the fact that I got to be on the show and meet him and do a skit with Bryan Cranston was absolutely surreal. When I was waiting behind the curtain backstage to go on, I was close to tears because it felt like such a dream come true.

What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?

Meeting all the people who watch the films and hearing their stories. I love when young girls come up to me and tell me about their experience in school and how we can both relate.

You’ve previously said “I’ve never been more aware of my Asian-ness and femaleness than working in Hollywood.” Tell us a little about your experience with that awareness, and what you hope can change within the industry.

I was adopted by an incredible American family when I was very young and we moved all over America throughout my childhood. So each state and environment really shaped me into who I am today. I was well aware of my ethnicity, but I was also well aware of my environment being a major factor in my identity. I lived all of my childhood just thinking of myself as Lana, not ignorant, but less defined by what I looked like, and more defined by who I am as a person, my likes, my dislikes, etc etc. So then coming to Hollywood was definitely a change for me, because in the beginning of my career I noticed that the first thing people see is what you look like, then they gauge from there whether or not you’re the right product for them. Now I definitely see a change in that and the industry is starting to see actors for their personality and talent.

When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?

I rely so much on the support of my family and loved ones when I am going through hard times or bumps in the road. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my short career is that you need to keep your loved ones and the people you knew before “fame” close and celebrate them because they truly loved you and had your best interest at heart before anything else happened.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I was freaking out one day and overwhelmed and my grandma said to me “Lana, you’re completely valid in feeling this way, but right now the laundry is done and we got to take care of that because that’s what’s in our control and our immediate task at hand.” And that really put so much into perspective for me because I realized I can get so wrapped up in my career etc. and forget to just take a breath and not take things so seriously.

I try not to compare myself to others, because I know our stories are all different and were unique. I just try and do what I’ve always done on social media: Be as true to myself as possible.

Social media has been around for much of your life. How do you remain authentic in the age of Instagram?

I think because it’s been around for the most of my life, it’s just an average normal part of it, so I don’t glorify it because I’m used to it if that makes sense. I’ve always been pretty transparent with who I am as a person and I’ve done the same with how I handle my social media platform. I try not to compare myself to others, because I know our stories are all different and were unique, and I just try and do what I’ve always done on social media, which is be as true to myself as possible because that’s all I really know how to be. The good and the bad!

Which women in your industry do you look up to most? Why?

I look up to Sandra Oh more than anything. What she has done for the Asian community in terms of representation and providing so much hope and inspiration has truly been incredible. I was so emotional during the Golden Globes this year because I just watched her up there, so truthful and confident and vulnerable and brave all at the same time, and it made me so proud. And made me think that we’re truly moving in the right direction in this industry and truly are making huge changes. Which is obviously very exciting.

What are you most excited about working on in 2019?

I’m obviously very excited to shoot the sequel of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But there are also a couple of secret projects that I can’t wait to share with everyone that I’m very excited to do, because I always love to try new things and surprise people!

Photo Credit: Riker Brothers