Simona Tabasco Beyond ‘The White Lotus’

Photo: Fabio Lovino/HBO

She became an international overnight sensation for her role in the HBO hit series “The White Lotus,” but she’s no stranger to Italian moviegoers.

Born in Naples in 1994, Simona Tabasco started acting when she was just 8 years old. Her craft is second nature to her now, but acting didn’t always come easily. In an interview with Forbes, she explained, “The spark that started my acting career didn’t happen right away when I started acting, but it broke out during the last 10 years.”

Her first feature film role came around that time in Edoardo De Angelis’ 2014 crime drama “Perez,” for which she received the Nastri d’Argento Premio Biraghi, an award designated for young artists. In it, Tabasco portrays Tea Perez, the daughter of a famous Neapolitan criminal lawyer, played by Luca Zingaretti. When she falls in love with the son of a Camorra boss, her father must walk a fine line between his professional ethics and his love for his daughter. Tabasco brought depth and authenticity to her character through a forceful, dramatic performance.

Her next high-profile role was as Alex Di Nardo, an undercover police officer in the first two seasons of the Italian television series “I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone.” Set in Naples, the series follows a crew of law enforcement agents fighting crime and solving cases in the local Pizzofalcone police station. Alex Di Nardo is a woman at odds with her overbearing family. Tabasco gives Alex the perfect balance of toughness when confronting the grim nature of her job and affability when interacting with her colleagues. She is a layered character who deals with the demands of work and the disappointments of family members by compartmentalizing her life and living in the moment.

“Luna Park” Netflix

In 2021, Tabasco had a starring role in the Netflix original “Luna Park,” a delightful, cleverly written series with a tangled storyline that’s fueled by enough comic relief to keep you laughing throughout. Tabasco is Nora, a vivacious young woman who grew up in her family’s circus in Rome during the 1960s. Working as a tarot card reader at her father’s carnival park, she reads the cards for a young woman on a quest to find her twin sister, who has been missing since she was a baby. Nora puts the pieces of the puzzle together and realizes that she is the woman’s sister. Tommaso Ragno gives a heartfelt performance in the role of her free-spirited father, who is on a lifelong mission to design the perfect ride for his carnival. The two actors from different generations have strong chemistry, making for some compelling, heart-tugging scenes.

When auditioning for a role, Tabasco believes it is important to study the character closely to give a sincere performance. That’s exactly what she did for her next character, Lucia Grecco, a young Sicilian prostitute in Season 2 of HBO’s “The White Lotus,” which proved to be a life-changing role.

The White Lotus is a fictional hotel chain in the HBO series created by Mike White. At the story’s center are various guests and employees, each dealing with their own drama. Lucia and her partner in crime, Mia, played by Beatrice Grannò, flit about the Sicilian hotel hustling tourists like they own the place, much to the chagrin of Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), the hotel’s no-nonsense manager. Lucia becomes involved with serial adulterer Dominic Di Grasso (Michael Imperioli). Later, she inadvertently strikes up a friendship with Dominic’s son, and they develop strong feelings for each other.

Tabasco received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role, and she and Grannò received an MTV Movie + TV Award nomination for Best Duo. The part opened doors for Tabasco. She recently starred in a campaign for Kim Kardashian’s clothing line and is set to co-star with Sydney Sweeney, a fellow “White Lotus” cast member, in the forthcoming horror film “Immaculate.”

“Many projects are coming,” said Tabasco. “While before ‘White Lotus,’ I was used to dealing with Italy, now my prospects have broadened a bit, and so I will spend a little more time in the U.S.”

Keep up with Tabasco on Instagram at @simonatabasco. All of the aforementioned films and series are available online. Click on the titles for direct links.

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