Lana Condor smiles when she speaks. I’m positive, even though our interview takes place over a call and I’m staring at my scratched-up iPhone screen instead of her surely beaming face. There’s an unmistakable lilt to her voice—a slight upward curve in the way she enunciates and how she ends each sentence in a distinctly buoyant timbre… Yes, she’s definitely smiling. That, and she’s constantly bursting into peals of laughter, which pepper our discussion like living, breathing exclamation marks. Not to say she isn’t taking my questions seriously. More, Condor seems to be brimming over with unsullied joy, which amalgamates every few minutes in the form of a laugh—too much effervescence to be bottled up in her 5’3” frame, to get lost in the static of our phone connection, or to be masked by any vague, performative aloofness. Not that she would ever try. If Lana Condor is any one thing, it’s sincere.
“I’m very thankful I’ve lived in so many different places,” she tells me earnestly when I ask about her upbringing, which spanned Chicago, Washington, and New York before ending with her current residence in Los Angeles. “It’s given me perspective. It’s really easy when you live in L.A. to feel like you’re in a bubble, and you can kind of forget that actual life isn’t like that.”
She credits the part of her childhood spent on Whidbey Island—a tiny Washington region she describes as a place “where everyone has a farm and animals”—for keeping her from falling prey to Hollywood’s shiny, plastic, often vacuous value system. Grounded, cheery, raised by two loving parents on an island with a population of less than 80,000—Lana Condor is the modern girl next door, which makes it feel all the more fateful a girl-next-door role would be the one to skyrocket her to fame.
Photographer: Paley Fairman | Videographer: Sam Schultz | Stylist: Leah Adicoff | Makeup Artist: Jen Budner at Art Department using Tom Ford Beauty | Hairstylist: Anna Lyles for Atelier Management