Pretty Little Liars star Janel Parrish’s days in Rosewood are over, but we’ll get to see her on the big screen in no time. Parrish is set to star in the movie adaptation of Jenny Han’s young adult novel To All the Boys I Loved Before and her role is an important step forward in Asian-American representation on screen.
If you haven’t read Han’s book, it’s the first novel in a trilogy about Lara Jean Song, a 16-year-old who writes love letters to every boy she’s ever had feelings for and stores them in a box. When that box falls into the wrong hands, things predictably go haywire.
Parrish will play Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot, who’s dating their next door neighbor.
“Janel was a fan favorite on Pretty Little Liars and I feel so lucky to have her – not only as an actress but as a person,” Han told Seventeen.com. “She is definitely the big sis of the group and every time I saw her interact with Lana and Anna [her co-stars], she was so lovely and generous with her time and her experience as an Asian American woman in the film industry. It’s so important to have mentors, people who you can go to for advice, who know how to navigate the waters. I can already tell that Janel will be that for Lana and Anna.”
Han also noted the film is particularly special to her because Asian-Americans are underrepresented in pop culture. In 2016, just 1% of Hollywood’s leading roles were played by Asian actors.
“It’s so rare to see Asian Americans on screen, and for me as the author, that was my number one priority,” Han said. “The last time I saw Asian American women centered in a movie was Joy Luck Club. That was 25 years ago! I didn’t want Asian American girls to have to wait another 25 years to see themselves as the star of a movie.”
To All The Boys I Loved Before has already begun filming and it looks like Parrish and her co-stars are having a blast. Han recently shared an adorable behind the scenes photo of herself, Parrish, Lana Condor, and Anna Cathcart.
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