I remember sitting in my car before the audition and being like, you have to get this, this is yours, you have to do this. Lana, you have to do this role. I wanted it so bad. Then the audition process was quite grueling, and my want for it just kept growing stronger because I was emotionally so invested.
It was so like, young kid in LA trying to make it. I was living in Los Angeles, sitting in my tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny studio apartment with the mattress on the ground, a mini fridge as a fridge. We didn’t have any AC, so I’d have to keep the door open to let air come in. Oh, and I had just finished babysitting — ironically, I was babysitting three little Korean girls at the time. Sitting in the doorframe, my agents called me and they told me that I booked it. And like, even just sitting here now, remembering this, I’m just so grateful. My life completely changed.
When the first Halloween rolled around after the first movie came out, people were dressing like Lara Jean. I talked to so many Asian Americans who were dressing up as Lara Jean who were like, “I finally have something to dress up as that’s mainstream, that people actually know what I am.” I’m constantly every day blown away by the fact that we even got to do this in the first place. And now, it’s the third movie and it’s huge. People were coming up to us on the streets in Korea talking to us about the movie. I’m like, “Oh my God.”
What I love the most about the books is the relationships. All the women in Lara Jean’s life make her the young woman she becomes. Being able to go to Korea with Anna, Janel and Sarayu, who plays Trina, was literally just such a dream because I felt like I just was hanging out with my friends and my sisters. They feel that way to me now.
The girls would always make fun of me about this — as Lara Jean like, I get away with so much. I get to put in so many weird quirks that I just love. I love how she walks. She kind of kicks her feet while she walks, and sometimes she’ll add a skip. I always imagine her skipping through a field of daisies, I really was wanting to be wildly expressive. Actually, in the first film, there was discussion in production about me toning it down. They were like, Lana, you can’t keep making these faces. I was like, I feel like it just brings out her quirks. It makes her unique and endearing. Then when all the memes came out about her facial expressions, I was like, ha, in your face. I was right.
As an actress, what I’ll take on, what I’ve learned the most is, come on, Lana, you can stick to your guns. This experience taught me to conserve my energy because it’s super easy to in the just chaos of this whirlwind that To All the Boys was for me, you give, give, give, give, give, give, give, expel so much energy. Then you wake up one day and there’s like literally nothing left. You’re just like, I am a shell of myself. I learned that the hard way, taking care of myself and not burning the candle down to the very wick. To be a good performer, I need to have my energy and I need to feel okay mentally as well.
Lara Jean just has a good heart. She leads with love. She loves love. I’ll miss that a lot, but I have taken that into my life now just because it’s hard not to… we bled into each other. We’re like two peas in a pod. I’ll miss her heart.