Lana Condor On Flipping The Stereotype Of Asian Femininity On Its Head

Screenshot Via Netflix YouTube.

‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ drops on August 17

Lana Condor is not new to Hollywood. However, her first starring role is as Lara Jean Song Covey in Netflix’s adaptation of Jenny Han’s best-selling YA novel, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before—and it’s a job she considers one of the most important she’s had so far. And that can mostly be attributed to the fact that it’s one of the few Asian-American roles that doesn’t force you to consider a character’s heritage as a defining aspect of their personality. 

What’s so remarkable about the character of Lara Jean is that she’s a normal high schooler—experiencing something that could happen to anyone—whose entire narrative trajectory isn’t based on the fact that she's Korean-American. So ahead of the premiere of To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before, we sat down with Condor to talk about everything from her hopes for this new wave of Asian media representation to how the film eschews normal Hollywood tropes of Asian femininity and fetishization—and what exactly that means for a new generation of young Asian-American girls. Read our Q&A, below.

What’s it been like for you to be front and center of this huge film?
Last time I was in New York, I was with a huge cast, and people were really focused on everyone else, and I was just there for the ride. Now, this whole experience has been a lot different, because it's just me, and I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought that I was gonna be a lead of anything. Like, I woke up in tears one day, because I was like, “Oh my god, my movie is coming out.” It's been a really out-of-body experience. As a little girl, you just dream of this experience, but I never thought it was going to happen.

What initially drew you to the project?
I have always really been fascinated with bringing preexisting material onto the screen; I've done [movies based on] graphic novels and comic books. That is my safe place. With this, I knew of the book when I got the audition, and that was exciting for me.

Of course, the opportunity to be a lead was also a big draw. And then the fact that she happens to be Asian in a rom-com is major, because that doesn't happen. So lots of things, but initially, I was just excited that it was after a book.

Speaking of the film’s representation push, I think what I really liked about the movie was the fact that being Asian wasn't even a talking point in the narrative. She was just a regular, American girl.
Yeah, that is what I'm most of the proud of the movie: that it's not an Asian rom-com. It's a rom-com that happens to have an Asian actress as the lead. It normalizes, because, unfortunately, this is still a groundbreaking thing. But I did love that this movie was about a girl going through universal experiences and problems. She just happens to be Asian. That's what we should see in life. We're not making jokes. She's not stereotypically written. She's just your average girl. 

I think it's cool because, for so long, even if you did have an Asian character in a Hollywood movie, it would have such a distinct aura of othering.
That's the issue. Like, so many people ask me, “Is it hard for you, because you're Asian?” And I'm like, the more you continue to focus on the way that we look, the more you're inadvertently continuing to put us in a box. Instead of just being like, “Hey, how's your day, what's up?” you’re talking about this super-specific aspect that becomes this thing [that defines us to you]. You're right, the idea of otherness is still an issue, but we're making baby steps.

Another thing I really liked about the movie was the way it didn’t fetishize the women, which is always a risk when you’re dealing with rom-com stuff—especially if it’s done through a white, male lens. When you first signed up for To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before, was there a moment when you were like, “Why did it take so long to get a non-fetishizing romantic movie about an Asian woman?”
Absolutely. It wasn't during production. It was after production when I started getting facts, and I realized that, “Oh, this hasn't happened in 25 years.” And then when younger girls started coming up to me and, like, saying they appreciate being able to look on screen and see someone that they look like—those have been the most impactful experiences. I thought I was just shooting a rom-com, and then I realized after that it's so much more important than just that.

It makes me want to cry, and it makes me nervous. But it's a really beautiful responsibility to have young girls and older women come up to me being like, “I wish I had seen this when I was a kid.” 

Why do you think it took us so long to get to this point? 
Our generation is so vocal now, and we're not stupid, you know? So now, people are speaking up. Now people are like, “No, dude, your movie's whitewashed. We don't stand for this.” And I think now Hollywood is finally realizing that they can't keep doing this. But for a really long time, people just accepted the stereotype, and no one worked hard to fight against that.

But the thing about [Asian media representation becoming a] big talking point this summer is that I hope it continues. We have so many movies with dope representation, I hope it’s not just going to be this summer. I hope that it continues on to the fall, and the winter, and the spring, and next summer, and it keeps going. We're in an awesome time right now, but we still have a long way to go.

You mentioned before that when Jenny Han was shopping around the story to production houses, some people were really gunning for Lara Jean to be white. Why do you think that was the case? Just because whiteness is the default experience in media and a studio thinks a white protagonist will connect more with a mass audience?
I think maybe yeah, we know rom-coms work with white people, so let's just do it… because that's all we know. But that's just stupid. I don't even get that. That’s really frustrating. Like, when people's first instinct is, "Great, love the concept, but I think we can make this girl white." I don't get that, but I'm really happy they didn't, because that would just piss off everyone. Jenny's fans are the most loyal readers, ever. A studio that would whitewash would just be pissing over everything that they love. 

But, I think what you said about it being default is true. Even though there's all this rhetoric right now about diversity, sometimes it just feels like when shit like that happens, you feel like, “Wow, is a scam?” I think it's disheartening when I hear these stories, because like, “Do people actually care, or is this just smoke and mirrors?” But I still have hope. I choose to be positive, because if not I'd be super-depressed.

[I think from this we should learn to] speak out. Demand representation. But similarly, I just went to a gender diversity talk—but it was only women there. So I thought to myself, “We're talking gender diversity, but if 80 percent of the people who make decisions in Hollywood are men, then they need to be here too so we can educate them.”

As women, we're all on the same team—we're all trying to do the same thing. But we have to bring these men in to have these conversations, because they're the ones who don't know shit, but they're the ones making the decisions. You have to continue educating everyone.

Out of curiosity, do you kind of wish there were more Asian cultural elements in the film? Or do you think that would have detracted from the mission?
I've actually thought about that, but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I mean, this is Jenny's story, and Jenny's novel is very similar to the book in terms of... Lara Jean is just living a universal experience. Maybe that's why studios thought that they could whitewash it so easily—because its Asianness is not “in your face.” So maybe they thought, “Oh, well, it's just an American experience.” 

We're just trying to normalize. We're not some weird species. We're normal fucking people, and I think that's what we were trying to do with the movie.

To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before is available to stream on Netflix starting August 17.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.