Have you ever stumbled upon a photo of a celebrity and immediately wondered what they were thinking in that very moment? In Elite Daily’s series, I Can Explain…, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us exactly what was going on in their heads. Whether they open up about an iconic look or a hilarious red carpet incident, we’re traveling back in time to find out what really went down.
Just before landing her role in Little Fires Everywhere, Lexi Underwood was ready to throw in the towel. "I call it my Hilary Duff story, because the day before Hilary Duff had booked Lizzie McGuire she was about to quit acting," the 16-year-old actor tells Elite Daily. "It was to the point where I was, like, actually getting suitcases and starting to pack up. And my mom was like, ‘Well you have this one audition tomorrow...'" In a matter of days, Underwood secured her spot on what is now one of Hulu’s most talked-about series, starring alongside Kerry Washington and Resse Witherspoon in the adaptation of Celeste Ng’s bestselling novel.
Playing Pearl Warren, daughter of Washington’s Mia Warren and quasi-daughter-figure of Witherspoon’s Elena Richardson, Underwood worked closely with both acting legends, a fact that makes her break out into a huge smile. “I'm still pinching myself,” she says. “Kerry is actually one of the actors that inspired me to become an actor. I'm so incredibly grateful to have her as a pretend-mother and scene partner, because she pulled something out of me that I didn't even know I had.”
Little Fires Everywhere covers some heavy topics, and Underwood is proud of the work she and her co-stars put into it. “I'm really excited for the impact it'll have on the world, and the conversations that will be sparked from the show. We're talking about abortion. We're talking about motherhood, what that looks like. We're talking about economic status,” Underwood says. Fans of the book will also notice some new directions taken by the screen version: “In the book, you don't know what race Mia and Pearl are. Kerry actually took me out for lunch right before we started filming, and the main conversation was [about] how we bring the authenticity of a black mother and daughter, that type of relationship, to the characters.”
Underwood’s performance on the show solidifies her as one to watch. Luckily, she’s had great teachers to prepare her for fame. “Something about Kerry and Reese is that they're just so incredibly joyful and loving and kind, and they make it their duty to say hi to every single person on the set, and to make sure that everybody feels comfortable,” she explains. “When you're No. 1 and No. 2 on the call sheet, it's so easy for you to, like, not be so nice — especially when you have 6 a.m. call times. But we could be up, like, so early and they would still be just so joyful and so kind. I think that's really important, especially for young actors to see.”
As she looks back on a photo of herself sandwiched between two of her idols during Little Fires Everywhere’s final table read, it’s pretty clear Underwood she went to that one last audition before quitting acting: “Just working with these two women, and the entire cast and creative team, was truly life-changing.”
Little Fires Everywhere premieres Wednesday, March 18, on Hulu.