If you’ve been keeping up with the news about the superhero show Legion, you’d know that Lauren Tsai, a 21-year-old Chinese-American model, reality star and illustrator, has joined the cast this season.
She spoke to The Straits Times in Los Angeles about her time-travelling character Switch, and the common thread through her acting, drawing and work in fashion.
1. Legion is her first acting role
Lauren’s only on-screen credit before this was Terrace House: Aloha State (2016), a season of the popular Netflix Japanese reality series Terrace House, which watches sparks fly as six young strangers live in a house together for a few months. She was the breakout star of her season and when it ended, she moved to Tokyo and found success as a model and illustrator.
2. She was cripplingly shy as a teenager and got into modelling to overcome it
“I was not confident and I spent all my time indoors on a computer screen, and all my friends were online. Modelling was the opposite of who I told myself I was, so I learned a lot about myself by doing it.” This is why she relates to her character in Legion. “A young mutant who’s just figuring out how to use her powers, Switch is someone who feels very disconnected from the world – she only feels at home inside of her head sometimes,” says Lauren.
3. She is an illustrator who has worked with Marc Jacobs, Nike and Marvel Comics
In 2018, Lauren’s pop Surrealist drawings were featured on a line of bags and ready-to-wear pieces for Marc Jacobs Japan, and her drawings adorned a limited edition of Nike Air Force 1 sneakers exhibited in Tokyo. She has also illustrated variant covers for Marvel comics books, including Captain Marvel #1, released earlier in 2019.
4. She is learning Mandarin to connect to her roots
Born in Massachusetts to a Chinese-American father and European-American mother, Lauren was raised in Hawaii before moving to Tokyo at age 18 “for modelling and art and adventure”.
She speaks fluent Japanese, but is keen to learn Chinese, too. “My dad was born in Dayton, Ohio, but my grandparents are from Beijing. I want to learn more about China and started studying Mandarin a bit because it’s something I really want to connect to.
“Growing up and hearing my grandparents’ and my dad’s stories about what it was like for them to be Asian in a community where there were not really any other Asian people, it made me feel so much more proud of my heritage and I want to show that to the world.”
5. She sees herself as a storyteller
Asked what unites her different careers, she says: “I feel such a desire to tell the story of the things that I’m feeling or have experienced. Whether it’s doing illustration or trying to find some other side of myself through modelling and acting, at the end of it all, what I really want to do is tell stories.”
Legion 3 debuts on June 25 at 9.50pm on Fox (Singtel TV Channel 330 and StarHub TV Channel 505) and streams on Fox+.
Images: TPG/Click Photos
Text: The Straits Times / June 2019