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Lexi Underwood says Kerry Washington inspired her ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ role

Lexi Underwood as Pearl Warren on “Little Fires Everywhere.” (Photo credit: Hulu Press)

Lexi Underwood stars as Pearl Warren on the new Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere.”

After her first big break as young Nala in The Lion King on Broadway, Washington, D.C., native relocated with her family to Los Angeles. With appearances on Disney channel’s “Walk the Prank” and Netflix’s “Family Reunion,” she is hardly an overnight success.

Rolling out spoke with the 16-year-old actress about her current role in “Little Fires Everywhere” and how Kerry Washington helped her to grow as an actress.

As a 4-year-old, Underwood’s introduction to the arts began with playing flute and piano. After adding dance to her repertoire, attending a performance of The Lion King¬†made her realize her destiny.

“The Lion King was the very first musical I fell in love with,” she said. “I looked at my parents and told them I was going to be Nala one day. I didn’t want to stop, so we moved to LA for what was supposed to be three months, and now we’ve been here for five years.

“I’ve seen where some people think I’m a newcomer, but it’s, like, I’ve been here for five years working and this my first big break.”

On “Little Fires Everywhere,” Underwood’s character Pearl is a loving and intelligent teen whose world is changing rapidly. Finding stability in her life for the first time, Pearl wants more. Much to the dismay of her single mother Mia (Kerry Washington), after forming friendships with the affluent Richardson family, the once-close relationship between mother and daughter begins to unravel.

“I think their relationship is very complex,” Underwood explained. “There have always been questions about her [mother’s] parenting, but she just accepted it as normal. When she gets to Shaker Heights, there’s a big shift. When she sees Elena and Bill Richardson, they embody this life that she’s always secretly wanted, and that’s when the switch happens. Mia prioritizes her art whereas Elena has her career and still does all these things for her kids.”

Working alongside her on-screen mother, Underwood said Washington pulled things out of her as an actress she didn’t know were there.

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