We chat with Lukita Maxwell, the half-Asian star of HBO's teen series Generation

·Lifestyle Editor
·4-min read

SINGAPORE — HBO Max's edgy teen dramedy, Generation (or what is stylised as Genera+ion), has gotten attention for feeling true to the way that Gen Z thinks and behaves, and also for its diverse LGBTQ representation in portraying a generation that is much more open about their queer identities.

The mid-season finale of Generation aired in April, but the show will return for its second half with a 17 June premiere comprising a bumper three episodes.

The first half of the season culminated in the disparate group of high school students finally dealing with Delilah's newborn baby. It was a touching episode as the whole gang chipped in to help Delilah as she made the fateful decision to give up her child to the state's care at a fire station. 

We joined a roundtable interview with Lukita Maxwell, who plays Delilah, the super-woke social justice champion who, for all her noble righteousness, is seen to be able to make very human mistakes too. Case in point: getting knocked up as a school-going teenager, then being totally unaware of her pregnancy until she goes into labour in panic in a mall bathroom.

Lukita Maxwell as Delilah in HBO's teen dramedy, Generation. (Photo: HBO Max)
Lukita Maxwell as Delilah in HBO's teen dramedy, Generation. (Photo: HBO Max)

The 19-year-old actor's TV career began with a recurring role in ABC’s hit show Speechless. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, her family moved to Utah in the U.S. when she was younger. Maxwell speaks a bit of Bahasa Indonesia in the series, which hints at her Asian heritage - she's half-Chinese and half-Caucasian.

Maxwell said about Generation and her character, "I think the Barnzes (the show's creators Zelda and Daniel Barnz, and executive producer Ben Barnz) had this very clear vision of how they wanted to portray perspective and point of view (POV), with all of these characters, and show this unique adolescent Gen Z perspective for the first time... At the beginning of this series, Delilah was not really friends with any of these other characters. She's kind of on her own, very much an outlier, very much an outsider, and it's not until she reaches out and starts to build relationships with these other characters that you break down those walls and see more of Delilah through these other characters' POVs, and then eventually through Delilah's POV."

Regarding Delilah being a classic Gen Z social justice warrior, Maxwell said, "The character of Delilah is very, very clear about what she wants, and what she wants other people to do, and how she wants other people to think, but the writing is self-aware, and the writing does joke about it sometimes and you get the perspective of Delilah from not only older generations that think that she's completely ridiculous sometimes, but also peers her own age who view her as kind of sometimes "out there". But we've always had activists – it's not specific to Gen Z. We've always had activists and voices that are not afraid to say what they believe in. I think that what's different with Gen Z is, maybe it's because of social media, information is able to spread faster. I think that Gen Z is able to come together more easily and communicate and inform each other and educate each other quicker. And they're a lot more passionate about things they want to change in the world."

The cast of HBO's teen dramedy, Generation (left to right): Justice Smith, Uly Schlesinger, Nathanya Alexander, Lukita Maxwell, Haley Sanchez, and Chase Sui Wonders. (Photo: HBO Max)
The cast of HBO's teen dramedy, Generation (left to right): Justice Smith, Uly Schlesinger, Nathanya Alexander, Lukita Maxwell, Haley Sanchez, and Chase Sui Wonders. (Photo: HBO Max)

Maxwell revealed that her character is biracial, like her, and that we'll see her parents in the back half of the show. Asked about her Asian heritage, she said, "My mother was born and raised in Indonesia, and so was I. I grew up in an Indonesian household with Cantonese, Hokkien and Mandarin-speaking parents and grandparents, and I grew up speaking Bahasa (Indonesia). Bahasa was my first language, and when I moved to the States, I definitely lost a little bit of it." 

In a touching little scene just before she hands her child over to a fireman, Delilah says something to it that viewers don't get to hear. I asked Maxwell if she could share what she told the baby.

"I don't want to. That's my secret," said Maxwell sheepishly. "In the script, the Barnzes had written that the audience will never know what Delilah says to the child; it's between her and her kid, and for her to hold on to. When we shot the scene, it changed every time I did the take. Whatever I felt like saying in the moment came out. I had surrounded myself with all of these very loving, familial thoughts beforehand, and it kind of changed up every time."

Delilah's story is set to get more interesting in Generation: it's streaming on HBO Max in the U.S. but in Asia, you can stream the show on HBO Go – it's not available on the cable TV channel HBO.

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