Anna Akana is familiar with playing LGBTQ characters. Throughout much of her career, over half the roles she's booked have fallen into this category. But while her latest role as Kerry in Netflix's Let It Snow adds another queer character to her list of credits, her storyline in the new movie presents a whole new perspective. According to Akana, Let It Snow shows another side of LGBTQ representation, all wrapped up in a heartwarming holiday movie.
Warning: Spoilers for Let It Snow follow. Let It Snow is based on the YA novel of the same name by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. It tells the story of a group of teenagers in a small town in rural Illinois whose lives intersect in meaningful ways when a snowstorm hits on Christmas Eve and everything slows down. Akana's Kerry is one of those teens, and at the start of the movie she has a secret romance with another girl named Dorrie (Liv Hewson). The issue is, Kerry hasn't come out to her friends, which creates a wedge between her and her love interest.
The way Kerry's identity is explored throughout the film was especially appealing to Akana, from the moment she read the movie's script. "A lot of movies that center on LGBTQ people are always so dramatic about the time that they came out, and not to take any credence away from those situations, but I would love to see it more normalized," Akana tells Elite Daily. "[There are] the different takes of what it is like to be a gay person. We don’t all have the same stories. So I loved that [for Kerry, being queer] wasn’t a central piece to her identity as a human being. This is just about how one person is coming out."
In real life, Akana is bisexual, and she shared her own personal coming-out story on her super popular YouTube channel in 2018. Throughout Akana's experience of coming out, she was sometimes met with unfounded skepticism. "The first time I ever told a friend I liked another girl when I was younger, she told me I was just a straight girl trying to be interesting." Akana says. "And so, I always very much denied the part of myself that was very fluid and more queer-focused."
Akana explains that it took some time for her to understand her own sexuality, especially since she was often cast in LGBTQ roles even before coming out.
"I was always like, 'Wow, is it bad that I’m booking all these roles as a straight girl? I’m taking all these roles and I’m taking them away [from LGBTQ actors].'" Akana describes. But as she learned more about her own sexuality, things started to make more sense. "As I sort of grappled with coming to terms with my own internalized homophobia, I was like, ‘Oh, this is why this is happening. Totally makes sense.' So, it’s been good to get to express myself from that place."
Akana says her personal experiences helped her relate to Kerry while filming Let It Snow, since Kerry also grapples with embracing her true identity. "Dealing with Kerry’s storyline, where she’s so afraid to come out to her friends and struggling with, 'How do I portray my identity in this space...' I felt it was very relatable to my own experience," she says.
Akana is hopeful viewers from all different walks of life will be able to relate to and enjoy Let It Snow.
"Growing up, I never really saw myself in characters," Akana says. "I was always like, 'Oh, I’m trying to identify with the straight white man in this film because that’s all there is.' But it’s really great to see something not only portrayed so diverse, but also inclusive romantically, so I hope people are able to take away some form of themselves in it."
Let It Snow is streaming on Netflix now.