EXCLUSIVE: Lana Condor On How To All The Boys Helped Her Reconnect With Her Adopted Parents

Lara Jean isn't the only one retracing her history.

Since To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before first debuted in 2018, Lana Condor, who plays the series’s lead, Lara Jean, has been a big part of young Asian girls seeing themselves represented on screen. The character of Lara Jean is an overachieving high-schooler, of Korean and white American descent, and an uber-romanticist who writes secret love letters to all the boys she’s loved before. But, more importantly for Condor, she’s someone who isn’t afraid to explore her cultural heritage, she embraces it. 

WATCH: The To All The Boys: Always and Forever Official Trailer

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In the third act of the To All The Boys series, To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean begins the film in Seoul, Korea, exploring the city with her family and reconnecting with her cultural identity. At one point in this section of the film, LJ, with her non-Korean father (John Corbett) and her sisters Kitty (Anna Cathcart) and Margot (Janel Parrish), visits the Romantic Love Locks at N Tower in Seoul.

The destination is a tourist attraction for couples: a wall of locks of varying colours and names on them, each representing a different couple who visited the site. While there, they find one that their parents made when they visited long ago, before the group decide to add another lock to it and sign it as “Lara Jean, Dad, Kitty, and Margot, Mum ❤️.” 

“When we went to Korea, the point of that was to show Lara Jean and her family actively going to kind of retrace her mother’s footsteps,” Condor explains. “Her mother had passed away when she was a lot younger, and so it’s the first time they’re going back to where her mum came from.” 

Lana Condor
Lara Jean (portrayed by Lana Condor) attaching the lock from her family to the lock shared between her dad and late mother. (Credit: Netflix)

It’s a beautiful scene that speaks to what makes the To All The Boys series so special and unique within the teen rom-com genre, but to Condor, as someone who was adopted from Vietnam as a baby, she says acting out that experience helped her reconnect with her own cultural identity. 

“I’m adopted. My brother and I were adopted from Vietnam,” Condor reveals to Girlfriend. “[Directly after we filmed the scenes in Korea], my family and I actually went to Vietnam for the first time, and kind of retraced our steps and retraced my mum’s and my dad’s steps and how we found my brother and me at the orphanage.

“So in a way, it was very paralleled, largely in going back to her roots and myself also having that same experience directly after we finished filming in Korea. I could go on and on about ways that I feel very connected to Lara Jean but I think one of the most major things that I feel parallel to my life was definitely that trip of self-discovery and then finding out where you came from.”

You can watch Lana Condor’s heartwarming portrayal of Lara Jean in her final year of high school in To All The Boys: Always and Forever when it drops on Netflix on the 14th of February. In the meantime, why not check out our interview with her co-star and 13 Reasons Why actor Ross Butler.

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