The White Lotus Star Haley Lu Richardson Is Over Being Dismissed as ‘Cute’

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Haley Lu Richardson understands that being labeled “cute” can be a double-edged sword. Name-calling is one of the oldest power-plays in the book: It’s just as cutting in the boardroom as it was on the playground, but since it never causes physical harm, it’s easily dismissed. And while we all know the “sticks and stones” rhyme, anyone who’s been called a bitch or a slut (or stuck with any label she doesn’t identify with) understands just how damaging name-calling can be. In Mislabeled, Glamour talks to some of the most interesting women we know about the role name-calling or labels played in their pasts—and how it’s shaped the women they are today.

Haley Lu Richardson seems a lot more fun than her White Lotus character Portia, season two’s quasi-nihilistic Gen Z assistant who perceives chilling at an all-inclusive Italian resort as some kind of soul-crushing existential chore.

Portia laments her lack of purpose when she could be ordering room service on her unhinged boss’s dime. Richardson has “a bunch of random” passions, including knitting sexy bodysuits for her Etsy shop and teaching burlesque dance lessons to the elderly. Portia cries poolside in Sicily while Richardson saves her tears for Phoebe Bridgers. Still, the pair share some unique travel experiences.

So far, we’ve watched Portia fourth-wheel two awkward family outings with a Stanford nerd she may or may not have vacation sex with—a situation the actor’s not entirely unfamiliar with. “I went with an ex-boyfriend to Vegas with his parents for his dad’s 60th birthday, and somehow the four of us ended up at a strip club,” she tells Glamour. “When I say I don’t know how we ended up there, I definitely know because I was the one that forced us all to go. His dad was feeling down about turning 60, and I’m like, ‘Let’s go to the strip club!’”

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Richardson paid for all their lap dances, including her own. “There was a stripper Penelope that I actually fell in love with. This was three years ago now and I still dream about Penelope,” she continues. “I’m not even exaggerating. If Penelope reads this article—the pole dancer at Crazy Horse in Vegas—please know that I’m still thinking about you.”

The truth is, there’s so much more to the 27-year-old actor than the “cutesy” label she feels has been ascribed to her since moving to Los Angeles at 16. “I know that I’m a cutie, but it can be stifling—everything that cute entails and the limits to it,” she says. “What about hot or sexy? What about smart? What about the ideas that I have? What about all of that?” 

For Glamour, Haley Lu Richardson opened up about the unexpected pitfalls of a bubbly personality and speaking up for herself on the set of The White Lotus.

Fabio Lovino/HBO

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