Beatrice Grannò grew up in Rome with five brothers. At a young age, she learned how to command a room, deal with men, and put on a performance when necessary.

Season Two of Mike White’s hit HBO Max show, The White Lotus—a dark comedy about a group of loosely connected people at a five-star resort—marks Grannò’s first major American role. Grannò dominates the screen as Mia, an escort. Along with her friend Lucia, Mia uses her charm to get what she wants.

The latest season, like the first, stars Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries, who play a married couple on vacation. The rest of the cast members, including Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli, and Grannò, are new, and the location has switched from Hawaii to Sicily.

Grannò, 29, has always been an entertainer; she started singing, dancing, and playing music at a young age. Acting came last, when she was 18. “I love the stage. I love telling stories,” she says. “I love to express myself through anything I can.”

Grannò (left) stars alongside her longtime friend Simona Tabasco in Season Two of the HBO hit.

Ten years ago, Grannò auditioned for theater programs. While trying to get into Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, in Rome—“the most important cinema school in Italy,” Grannò says—she met her future White Lotus co-star Simona Tabasco, who plays Lucia. They quickly became friends, but Tabasco got in, while Grannò did not.

In 2013, Grannò moved to London and enrolled in East 15 Acting School. There, she was “trained to be an independent artist,” she says. The program blended acting with music, dancing, and writing. It is multi-disciplinary “because they want you to create your own creative space without having to depend on anyone else,” Grannò explains.

“I love the stage. I love telling stories. I love to express myself through anything I can.”

Learning several different disciplines encouraged Grannò to co-found a comedy troupe called Superglue Assembly Line, in 2016. With the group, Grannò performed stand-up shows throughout the United Kingdom.

Eventually, she returned to Rome to work in television and cinema. In 2020, she re-united with Tabasco when they were both cast in an Italian medical drama called DOC: Nelle Tue Mani.

Grannò prefers working in comedies over dramas, and in English productions over Italian ones. “Those are my roots,” she says. So when she heard about the auditions for Season Two of The White Lotus, which was set to film at the Four Season’s San Domenico Palace, on the eastern coast of Sicily, she finally had the chance to work in English while staying in Italy.

After Grannò auditioned for the role of Mia, she learned Tabasco was auditioning for the show, too. She went to Tabasco’s house to help her with a self-tape audition for the role of Lucia. “We played with the character, and it was so much fun,” Grannò says. “We kept dreaming about this happening.” When they both landed their roles, “it was magical,” Grannò says with a grin.

F. Murray Abraham, who plays a lascivious tourist, and Grannò in a scene from The White Lotus.

Mia, a Sicilian who hustles to get into the luxury hotel, was Grannò’s dream role because, since childhood, she’s wanted to play a singer in a show or movie. In The White Lotus, Mia performs “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” a number from the musical Good News, at the hotel bar. For the scene, Grannò got vocal coaching from Este Haim, the bass guitarist and vocalist of the band Haim and the musical consultant for the show.

“I was panicking the day before [filming],” she says. “I remember going to Simona and telling her, ‘I’m never going to be able to do this.’” While shooting the scene, White, the show’s creator and director, told Grannò to focus on Tabasco. “I remember the way she looked at me, and it was Simona. I could tell that it was her saying, ‘Beatrice, you can do this.’”

On set, Grannò carefully studied her castmates to pick up their acting techniques. “I remember watching Aubrey Plaza and seeing that she was so natural. She was doing nothing, in a good way,” she says. White insisted the whole cast eat dinner together every night in the Four Seasons. There, Grannò would talk about craft with the other actors.

Grannò was understandably tight-lipped about what’s to come in the much-anticipated finale. When asked about a potential next season, Grannò responds, “I want to be in it, but I don’t think I can.” She laughs, then quickly says, “No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”

The Season Two finale of The White Lotus will be available for streaming on HBO Max beginning December 11

Clara Molot is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL