Condor gets to indulge her more forceful side in her new show on SyFy, Deadly Class, debuting January 16. Like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it’s set in a high school—and that’s about where the similarities end. “It’s vastly different,” Condor promises. “It could not be a more different genre, and my character could not be more opposite from Lara Jean.”
That character would be the moody, mysterious Saya, a student at King’s Dominion, the shadowy private academy that teaches the deadly arts to offspring of the world’s greatest crime families. “She’s the most challenging character I’ve ever had to play in my life,” Condor states. “She’s super dark and has very dark humor and is kind of a lone wolf. She’s totally strong and does a lot of fighting.”
Condor also just wrapped a role in the highly anticipated Robert Rodriguez action film Alita: Battle Angel, set for a 2019 release. Plus, there are talks of a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before sequel (fingers crossed). Not bad for a girl who, for most of her childhood, thought her dream of becoming an actor was impossible. To which, of course, I have to ask why. “I went to high school in L.A., and everyone wants to be an actor,” Condor shrugs. “It just seemed like too much of a dream.”
That didn’t seem to stop her from meeting with the theatrical department at an agency after graduation… that turned her away for being too green. Condor laughs when she talks about the rejection. “It was very, very accurate,” she admits. “I had no experience whatsoever!”
Taking her rebuff in stride, she enrolled in a series of acting classes and tried again two years later. The rest fell into place quickly. “I got represented and—” she trails off, pausing. “I think I just got really lucky. Honestly.” By lucky, she means that she immediately booked her first movie (a little film you might have heard of called X-Men: Apocalypse) and from there had a few parts in smaller films before landing the coveted role of Lara Jean.
It goes without saying—and it isn’t lost on Condor—that the road to stardom is not usually this smooth, nor does it typically happen so quickly. She uses the word “lucky” a few more times while describing her career trajectory, but of course pure luck is never the lone ingredient in any success story (there are enough broke Powerball winners out there for proof). Watch any interview with Condor—highly recommended if you’re looking for a serotonin boost—and you’ll see there’s something else about her allure entirely. Part of it is that smile-speak thing she does. Part of it is her childlike optimism, wherein no goal feels too grandiose.
The thing about Condor is that she seems genuinely thrilled and in wonder of where life has taken her—like she can’t believe her fortune, but also wouldn’t expect anything else. It’s an almost physical energy, emanating off of her so viscerally you don’t even need to see her to notice it (case in point: that smile-speak thing I pick up on during our call). I can’t help but envy it, just a little. In a generation where an air of unperturbedness can feel like hard-won currency, Condor’s sincerity and complete lack of jadedness catch you off-guard—it could be grating if it weren’t so damn endearing.
Whether she’s gleefully discussing her personal style (“I love, love, love, more than anything in the world, menswear!” she declares. “I love wearing oversized suits, I love pantsuits, I love high collars”) or woefully recalling the time her Disney Channel–obsessed middle school self stayed up all night and applied to every random website promising to turn her into a star (she didn’t hear back, but it all worked out in the end), Condor punctures every anecdote with a winsome giggle or that peal of laughter—often both.