Crazy Rich Asians is (rightfully) getting a lot of attention for its history-making cast, but it鈥檚 not the only rom-com with an Asian lead debuting this week. Netflix鈥檚 To All the Boys I鈥檝e Loved Before, a lovely, witty film based on Jenny Han鈥檚 best-selling YA novel of the same name, hits the streaming service on Friday, August 17, with 21-year-old Vietnamese-American actress Lana Condor in the starring role.

Condor plays Lara Jean Covey, a high school student whose secret love letters 鈥 letters she never intended to send 鈥 somehow make their way to each of her crushes. The mortifying situation forces her out of her comfort zone and into a fake relationship with the impossibly charming Peter (Noah Centineo), who has his own reasons for suggesting the arrangement.

We won鈥檛 spoil the rest of the movie for you, but we will say it鈥檚 worth a watch 鈥 and that鈥檚 due in no small part to Condor, who is as sweet off-screen as she is in the film. Read on to find out what she told us about the importance of representation, her favorite scene to shoot, and her awkward first meeting with Centineo.

Brit + Co: The movie is based on a book by Jenny Han 鈥 had you read the book before you got the part?

Lana Condor: I hadn鈥檛 read it before I got the audition, but as soon as I got the audition, I got all fired up because, you know, I don鈥檛 usually get auditions to be the lead in a rom-com. I was like, 鈥淚 have to get this movie!鈥 So I ran to Barnes and Noble, bought it immediately, read it in a day, and then auditioned the next day. And then I kept reading it throughout that whole process of casting. At this point, I鈥檓 pretty sure I鈥檓 a To All the Boys I鈥檝e Loved Before pro.

B+C: What do you love most about the story?

LC: I love Lara Jean鈥檚 relationships with her sisters. I love that wholesome family dynamic that they have, even though it鈥檚 kind of an unconventional one. I think it鈥檚 really refreshing to see families that get along. Overall, I love that the book has a good heart. I feel like, right now, there are so many crazy things in the media, and in movies and television, and sometimes it鈥檚 refreshing to read or watch something that is just good, that makes you smile and doesn鈥檛 make you angry.

B+C: Who in your life do you lean on the way Lara Jean leans on her sisters, Margot and Kitty?

LC: I lean on my mom a lot. And I should probably tell her that. We鈥檙e in this stage 鈥 you know, I鈥檝e moved out, there鈥檚 some empty-nest syndrome happening鈥 I should probably call her after this and tell her that I still lean on her. I lean on my boyfriend, too, and I have a really good group of friends.

B+C: Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?

LC: My favorite scene is the scene where Lara Jean and Peter are in Peter鈥檚 mom鈥檚 kitchen, and she鈥檚 talking to him about how you can still miss someone even if you鈥檙e mad at them. I loved shooting that scene, because Noah and I were close from the very beginning, but I think in that specific scene is when I felt most at home with him.

I also like watching the scene where I鈥檓 running around trying to kill Kitty. That was so fun to shoot. So I guess those two.

B+C: Let鈥檚 talk about Noah. You two have such great chemistry in the movie. Was there an immediate spark between you?

LC: We were actually at pre-reads together, and I was so nervous at pre-reads. I was sitting in the corner, and I looked up, and this beautiful tall guy walked in the door. And I was like, 鈥淣ope, nope, I鈥檓 keeping my head down, I鈥檓 not going to get distracted.鈥 And then he walked up to me, and I clocked him walking up to me, and I was like, 鈥淣o, no, no, no, no.鈥 I don鈥檛 know if you鈥檝e met Noah, but he is the chillest, most confident human being in the world, and he has so much swag. So he sits and he goes, 鈥淗ey, do you want to read lines together?鈥 And I said no, because I didn鈥檛 want to get distracted.

Then, after I got the part, I got the list of guys they were auditioning for Peter, and Noah was the last name on the list. I was horrified! But he came in and we chemistry-read together, and it was magical. As soon as Noah walked out, we were all like, 鈥淵ep, that鈥檚 Peter, we don鈥檛 have to look any further.鈥 Peter makes Lara Jean feel very giddy and at times a little uncomfortable, and Noah makes me feel the same way. When I鈥檓 around Noah, I鈥檓 like, 鈥淥h my god, it鈥檚 Noah! I love you so much!鈥 I have a huge crush on him.

B+C: You mentioned earlier that you don鈥檛 usually get auditions to be the lead in a romantic comedy, which is true for most Asian-American actors. With the release of To All the Boys and Crazy Rich Asians, though, we鈥檙e really seeing why representation matters. What does it mean to you to be the romantic lead in this film?

LC: It means the world. I literally cry every time I think about it, because not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I was going to get the opportunity to do this, to be the lead in a rom-com. Maybe I would have gotten the opportunity to be in a rom-com, but not as the lead. That just doesn鈥檛 happen. So I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I hope it does well, I hope people are vocal about it, and I hope that Hollywood starts to understand that we鈥檙e not stupid, and that we want to see what the real world looks like reflected in film and television. It makes me sad, because this shouldn鈥檛 be groundbreaking. We should be past this. If we can get to the point where this is no longer a groundbreaking thing, I鈥檓 going to be so happy.

B+C: This role is very different from a lot of other roles you鈥檝e played in movies such as X-Men: Apocalypse and Alita: Battle Angel. What are the biggest differences and challenges in how you approach a character like Lara Jean versus someone like Jubilee in X-Men?

LC: It鈥檚 funny 鈥 I鈥檓 doing a television show this month, and I play an assassin there, too. It鈥檚 so exciting playing badass superhero characters, but what I yearned most to do was to play a normal girl. Lara Jean is a normal girl, and it was very refreshing to play her, but I didn鈥檛 realize how difficult it was going to be. When you鈥檙e playing comic book characters or graphic novel characters, you have the hair, the costume, the powers, so you can hide behind that as an actor. But playing a normal girl was actually quite challenging because I had nothing to hide behind. I just had to be myself and be authentic and hope for the best. So that was a very refreshing experience for me, because I鈥檇 never had that before. And I loved it. I love doing both, but this was very challenging and real for me.

B+C: What was Susan Johnson like as a director?

LC: Susan was wonderful. She is very passionate about film, and all she wanted was to have the film represent Jenny鈥檚 book well. That鈥檚 all she wanted, and I think she did a really great job. She was always so supportive and she was everyone鈥檚 number one fan. She was wonderful, she was passionate, she knew what she wanted, and she fought for a lot of things on Jenny鈥檚 behalf. She鈥檚 the epitome of a strong female director 鈥 well, a strong director. Take the sex away from it. She was just a strong director, period.

(photos via Masha Weisberg/Awesomeness Films/Netflix + courtesy of Netflix)