X-Men Origins: Meet Newcomer Lana Condor Through Her Dance Career and Adoption Story

By  · Published on March 27th, 2015

I’d officially like to welcome our newest mutant #JubilationLee, #Jubilee @LanaCondor to #XMEN #Apocalypse

A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on Mar 25, 2015 at 11:57am PDT

When Bryan Singer announced the late addition of Lana Condor to X-Men: Apocalypse this week, many fans were left asking, “Who?” The young actress has been tapped for the role of Jubilation Lee, aka Jubilee, a teenage mutant who can (or could, if you’re going by the comics) shoot plasmoid fireworks from her fingers. And this will apparently be her first movie role, according to her otherwise credit-free IMDb page.

Everyone has a backstory, though, especially in the internet age. Condor’s origins on the web go back as far as 1997, when she was adopted as an infant from a Vietnamese orphanage by then Chicago Tribune health and fitness writer Bob Condor. He wrote the story of the adoption, of Lana and her brother, in the Chicago Tribune Magazine that Christmas. The article states her birth name as Tran Dong Lan.

Fast forward a couple decades, and in her teens Lana Condor has become an accomplished dancer, attending the renowned Joffrey Ballet School and Ailey/Performing Arts School and performing with the Los Angeles Ballet. She was also named a California Arts Scholar in theatre for 2014. If you’re curious about her acting experience, well, she played Amber Von Tussle in her high school’s production of “Hairspray” last year (see a photo here) and in 2013 was Leilani in the musical “Legally Blonde.”

She can be seen in a 2012 Ailey work in progress below, and then under that is a 2013 Joffrey Ballet School performance. You can also see a bunch of photos of her in action via her Instagram account.

X-Men: Apocalypse will also star Jennifer Lawrence, in her claimed final installment, along with other returning actors Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Evan Peters and Nicolas Hoult plus newcomers Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Oscar Isaac, who plays the title villain. The movie, which will be set in the 1980s, hits theaters on May 27, 2016.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.