Returning to Maui, the island she first visited as a baby, actress Lana Condor said she was thrilled to be honored for her brief career.
“My whole career is very short. I was only a professional actor for eight years,” said Condor, who received the Stella Award at the Maui Film Festival on Friday night. “My goal is, what is my mission? Why am I doing all this? For me, it’s representing my people.
The Stella Award honors an actress for advancing the status of women in the film industry.
“I’m very grateful” she says. “Working in the entertainment industry is one of the most joyful, challenging and rewarding jobs. My goal and mission as an actress is to create space for audiences to feel less alone, to feel seen and feel safe. I think we’re making great strides in the industry when it comes to portraying and telling diverse stories with diverse actors.
Born in Vietnam, Condor spent her first months in an orphanage before being adopted by American parents. Her acting career took off with the hit teen romantic comedy “To all the boys I’ve loved before.” With Condor playing an endearing and awkward Korean American high school student, it has been viewed 80 million times worldwide.
It was a breakthrough role for a young Asian American woman to play a romantic lead role, and she received rave reviews. New York Magazine praised, “Condor is a ready-made star.” Variety reported, “Much of the film’s charm owes to Condor’s lead performance, which balances the character’s timidity with his kindness.”
Condor said she had no idea the film would take off and lead to successful sequels.
“We didn’t expect it at all” she explained. “When we did, we had no distribution. We hoped it would show. When Netflix picked it up, it was crazy. It was very exciting to keep doing that for a while.
She followed with “To all the boys: PS I still love you” so what “To all the boys: always and forever” with Netflix reporting the film was watched by 51 million households in its first quarter of 2021. Paste Magazine noted: “At the heart of all three To All the Boys films is the charming Condor, who imbues the films with validity and radiates happiness.”
The praise continued with his latest romantic comedy “Moonshot” with the New York Times proclaiming, “Condor is a perfect note.”
When asked if she felt satisfied to continue to receive good reviews for her performances, Condor laughed. “I don’t read reviews, but I feel good.”
The 25-year-old actress is currently starring in Netflix’s teen comedy Supernatural “Boo, bitch,” which was released on Friday. “It was my first show where I also produced it,” she says. “We came to Netflix with the pitch, and they bought it. It was a chaotic whirlwind, so amazing and fun. I felt grateful that Netflix trusted me.
Condor’s film credits include “Alita: Battle Angel”, “Patriots Day” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”. She will next be seen alongside John Cena and Will Forte in “Coyote vs. Acme,” based on the cartoons by Wile E. Coyote.
Condor also sought to elevate women off screen. Her philanthropic work includes The Asia Foundation, where she established a scholarship to send underprivileged girls and women to school in Vietnam. In 2019, she traveled to Vietnam with Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts, in favor of girls’ education.
Helping to inspire young women, she remembers attending a Netflix convention in Brazil.
“There were thousands of girls in the audience and someone held up a sign basically saying you saved me,” she says. “I think it was about representation. She saw herself on the screen. And that’s the joy of cinema.