Beatrice Grannò has just finished rehearsal in Rome for an upcoming concert. She’s happy and exuberant, with a glow that radiates through my computer screen here in Los Angeles—the same glow that cunningly usurped a piano and illuminated across 4.1 million TV screens in the US via the season finale of HBO’s acclaimed series, The White Lotus.
Grannò stars as Mia in the second season of the absurdist dramedy from Mike White, alongside real-life best friend, Lucia (Simona Tabasco), a local sex worker who brings Mia on her adventures at a luxury Sicilian resort, which plays host to the bulk of the series characters. This is also where Mia, a girl whose lifelong dream is to be a singer, convinces the hotel manager through persistence and seduction to allow her to sing in the lobby bar.
Both Grannò and Tabasco received immediate praise from viewers, winning the hearts of TV nerds and Twitter. Their screen presence, which unpacked discourse around sex work and the changing dynamics of masculinity, was a barbed comment on modern empowerment—unapologetically getting everything you’ve ever wanted by any means necessary—and they do so with unavoidable charm and humor.
Grannò graduated from East 15 Acting School in London in 2016, however, music was always her first love. “Everything started from music,” she shares. “It’s what activates every creative process for me. I wouldn't say that I have a big ambition of being a musician, but [I would like] to create the sort of career where I could both act and play music, that would be amazing.” On top of landing a massively successful part on one of the year’s biggest shows, her role on The White Lotus fused her two passions. “It was a great opportunity for me to be an actress and a musician,” she recalls, “to be able to play the piano. It feels like [music] is coming back and it’s becoming something that I cannot ignore anymore. I’m trying to make it happen, but in a very graceful way.”
When we speak, Grannò is in the midst of preparing her first performance with a band, a departure from her normal gigs as a soloist or duo. Grannò speaks of her excitement to try something new—she’s confident, and she should be, as someone who’s been writing her own songs since she was young. In the course of our conversation, it’s evident that Grannò does not fear what’s next, does not mourn the excellence that she has already experienced, and instead stays open to each new possibility. She will be making her English language film debut in an upcoming sci-fi romance entitled Daniela Forever opposite Henry Golding, while also pursuing her musical talents. “I’m curious,” she says. “I’m in this moment now where The White Lotus has given me the chance to progress into a much more international environment. I’m very excited to act in a film where I can act in English and collaborate with international people, but at the same time, I’m very curious to see where my music will go.”
Music is not just a performance platform for Grannò, but a way of processing the world around her. As Grannò mentions, her parents divorced in her early youth, resulting in her being raised as the only and youngest girl in a family of five brothers and step-brothers. Nevertheless, she describes her role in the family as “the boss,” yet notes that as she grew up, her direct nature softened, and while she’s still persistent and proud in her everyday life, she feels she best communicates complicated feelings through musical craft. “It’s hard to let people know that I’m in pain or I’m uncomfortable and I always want to find a graceful way to say it. Music helps me to let people know that, but to never be heavy about it. Sometimes all the things that you don’t say, that you keep inside and you never let out, those are great lyrics. Sometimes I just write down what I would love to say and that’s the lyric for me.”
We speak of the similarities between American and Italian culture, one of which is the way our societies value the importance of a woman’s independence. By no means is this value negative, yet there are times when this idea of independence and power becomes an over-consuming vessel to isolation, creating rock-hard exteriors that prevent anyone else from getting in, or us from getting out. “Here in Italy,” Grannò considers, “There’s now this trend of the strong independent woman who can only be a certain way, which is powerful and kind of robot-like, and she always says what she thinks. It’s always direct, and that’s the image of a strong woman. I think we’re forgetting all the tenderness and the sweetness. Sometimes in music, it’s so hard to find that. So for me [music] is about telling a story of strength, but almost in a whisper.”
This duality of strength and vulnerability seems to be innate in Grannò’s expression, the latter of which is lost upon her character in The White Lotus. “I do think that what makes Mia funny is that she never has a moment of vulnerability. She never doubts herself. She doesn’t care if she’s being impolite. I was talking to Mike White about it, because as an actress, I can really tell a story of vulnerability. I like to play that kind of character.” When she asked the show’s writer and creator if there would be a moment where Mia breaks down or cries, his final answer was no. “She’s always on top. I think it’s very inspiring to do that. It was the first time for me to play such a self-driven character.”
It could be said that the balancing act of any great artist is knowing when to share the truth, and when to embellish it. Grannò slipped comfortably into this fine line on The White Lotus—part of her great performance was due to her connection with Tabasco on screen, and the reason this friendship is so captivating through the script is because of their relationship in reality. “We met for the first time years ago,” she remembers. “Then I went to London, and she stayed in Italy, and then when I got back from London, we both got a job in the same series, where we got closer. But I think that The White Lotus was what really brought us closer, because we both shared something that was so big...We were both in the same situation, dealing with the same things.”
It was a very good year for Grannò: landing a dream role with a close friend, working on set at a resort in Sicily, and gaining widespread positive feedback on her performance. Still, one might approach success with a hint of fear, conditioned to the idea that with every groundbreaking, life-changing win one must pay their dues with setbacks and failures, that good fortune reaches a critical point in which there is no more luck to go around. This is a diseased kind of thought process, one that does not infect Grannò, who finds beauty and freedom in the vastness of uncertainty, and opportunity in her own potential destruction. “Definitely, everything needs to break,” she affirms. “Yes. In order to be born again, everything needs to fall apart.”
Grannò recently turned 30, a milestone in both America and Italy that encourages us to evaluate where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. “I do feel like I’m falling apart in a way... in a good way. It feels like so many pieces of my life are moving around. [Life is] a balance of throwing yourself and jumping, but also taking care of what happens if you jump and fall.”
Photographed by Federico De Angelis
Written by Franchesca Baratta
Styled by Silvia Bergomi
Executive Producer: Lucinda Agar at Magma Productions.
Producer: Serena Notarmasi
Photo Assistant: Ignazio Nano
Styling Assistant: Alessandra Filieri
Production Assistant: Mattia Vita
Location: Travertini Giansanti