EXCLUSIVE! Actress Lexi Underwood dishes on upcoming film Sneakerella and living your best life


Reality might not be a fairy tale (*laugh cries*), but if anyone can sweep us off our feet (for a couple hours at least), it's rising superstar Lexi Underwood.

You might know 18-year-old Lexi Underwood from the sci-fi series Will vs. The Future or the Hulu drama Little Fires Everywhere (the one with Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon...casual), but her new breakout role is in the upcoming Disney+ Cinderella-inspired movie, Sneakerella.

A gender-swapped, hip-hop-fueled take on the classic tale, this movie musical features Lexi as Kira King—aka "Princess Charming"—daughter of a famous basketball player in New York City and a singing and dancing sneakerhead. Lace up, fam, because in this story, the girls do not need saving. I guess you could say we're excited? (We're excited.)

Flipping old-school narratives on their head is kind of Lexi's thing—and we're not just talking about movie roles. Lexi (who will also be playing Malia Obama in the Showtime series The First Lady) has so. many. thoughts. on everything from problematic myths about Gen Z to helping other young Black women own their power to mental health and social media. Read on for our mini convo with Lexi, who is sure to inspire you to save your own dang self!


What's the biggest misconception out there about Gen Z?
"That we're tech dependent. We can't deny how quarantine highlighted our skills in navigating screens, but we definitely have a need for face-to-face interactions. That overwhelming joy and excitement when we get to reunite with family and friends—no screen could ever take the place of that feeling."

Sneakerella punts the damsel-in-distress narrative and gives us a strong, Black female character who can totally hold her own. What stereotypes—IRL or in the movies—are you determined to take down?
"To start, when a Black girl or woman is strong, business savvy, has a point of view, is assertive or even vulnerable, she should not be seen as threatening, hostile, weak or unlikable. Also, I would love for the unnecessary sexualization of Black women—and especially young, Black girls—to stop. Let us be vibrant, multi-dimensional, intelligent and unapologetically take up space."

What's the next Disney fairy tale that needs a more inclusive makeover?
"I would love to see a modern, live-action retelling of The Princess and the Frog with Ryan Destiny or Normani as Tiana. And this time, maybe let's not make her a frog..."

Romantic love is cool, but what are your self-love plans this Valentine's Day?
"Self-love is the best kind of love. I stay tapped into my oldie-but-goodie form of self-care, which is looking at myself in the mirror every day and saying, 'I love you.' But I also like meditating, journaling, spending time in nature, doing yoga, listening to high-vibrational music and singing in the shower. My go-to song right now is 'All I Ask' by Adele. I just love her!"

Any feel-good movie recs for Feb. 14?
"My go-to films are WavesLove JonesThe Truman ShowThe Great Gatsby and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

If you could give younger Lexi a piece of self-care advice, what would it be?
"Don't use social media as your benchmark for success. Social media can rob you of your joy, and you have to understand that everything is curated. We're not seeing the challenging parts of people's lives, only the good stuff, which most of the time isn't even real. So put your phone down and live your life instead of watching somebody else's."


Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our February/March 2022 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE


by Amanda Montell and Kayleigh Roberts | 2/18/2022