Category: Photoshoots

People Magazine

Haley Lu Richardson Opens Up Like Never Before on Therapy, Heartbreak and Learning to ‘Be Capable on My Own’
The ‘White Lotus’ star shares how she overcame difficult times through dance and her unexpected journey of self-discovery

Haley Lu Richardson exudes an effortless, self-deprecating charm. Between bites of pineapple and dragon fruit during a PEOPLE photo shoot in Malibu, the actress radiates good humor in the sweltering September heat. “Organic deodorant doesn’t work—it makes you sweat more,” she declares with a laugh, taking off her Akila sunglasses. “My shirt smells like feet.”

Moments later Richardson, 28, struts in with a new look, tossing back her golden-brown locks and tilting her head this way and that, considering her image in an oversize wooden mirror. “My hair is less in front. Do you think I’m balding?” she jokes with her team. As a photographer approaches, her vintage dress falls. “Free the nipple, baby!” she exclaims, quickly pulling her gown back up.

Richardson’s personality often gets compared to that of her breakout White Lotus season 2 character Portia, the quasi-nihilistic Gen Z assistant forced to vacation with her codependent boss Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge). Wearing wacky, mismatched outfits that launched 1,000 memes, Portia gallivants around an Italian resort, trying to find purpose in the world. But lately Richardson is experiencing a different kind of transformation.

In July she got vulnerable on Instagram, telling her 2.2 million followers that she was going through a difficult time. “I was experiencing deep heartbreak and fully letting myself feel how scary that was, how unknown,” she says. Richardson declines to give more specifics but has no regrets about posting.

“I don’t know if I’d ever just let myself actually feel those things without trying to fight it so much. It was a lot. I let myself feel sadness. And I just felt compelled to share that I wasn’t actually doing that great. It was so overwhelming, the effect that had, because I immediately felt less alone. Maybe because I hadn’t let myself feel that at other times in the past, where I’d felt lonely, down or lost—I just felt what I was feeling in that moment.”

Richardson garnered nearly 200,000 likes on the post, connecting deeply with her followers and feeling comforted by them. “It sounds so dumb that an Instagram post could affect me so much, but I just felt like people were being so honest and experiencing a shared feeling. We all go through these painful times, and to come together in that—that’s where compassion comes from. I felt like I was getting hugs from everyone.”

She takes a deep breath. There’s another side to the actress that many don’t know from her quirky onscreen persona. Her humor is a shield, but in the last few years—through life changes and therapy—she’s started to lean into her emotions.

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Los Angeles Times

Yes, Haley Lu Richardson loves that ‘White Lotus’ bucket hat too

After the first few minutes of the second installment of “The White Lotus,” one thing is crystal clear to the HBO series’ many viewers: By the end of the season, someone significant was going to die. Haley Lu Richardson, who plays Portia, the 24-year-old assistant to Jennifer Coolidge’s mega-wealthy Tanya, says she read through each script, braced for the worst, though not really dreading it.

“I wouldn’t have minded because shooting a character’s arc to their demise is kind of fun,” Richardson says. “But it would be sad, because she’s one of the characters where there’s something redeemable about [her], even though there’s these kind of annoying or frustrating things about her. She’s young and she’s trying, and you feel like maybe she’s on the brink of breaking through or something humbling her, whereas a lot of the characters on the show are just so awful, and they’re just going to be like that forever.”

Richardson’s take on Portia was initially limited to what she could glean from scripts for the first two episodes and the vague character description she received when she auditioned for the show. Richardson admits she was actually “bummed” to think that Portia might be the only good and likable character in the season. But the not-so-positive aspects of her “started coming out in the other episodes that just made her less likable, more complex, selfish, stuck, depressed.”

Over its two seasons, “The White Lotus,” created by Mike White, has balanced social commentary with comedy and a dash of deadly surprise. While the fate of Tanya on a boat full of seemingly friendly gay men was arguably the tensest moment of the season, a scene where Portia confronts vacation flame Jack (Leo Woodall), whom Tanya has witnessed having sex with the man Jack claims is his uncle, was a close second.

“So you f— your uncle,” Portia says bluntly before viewers begin to wonder whether her life is in danger as well. “I was proud of Portia at that moment,” Richardson says. “She was trying to save the day.”

Once the season began running, Richardson was inundated with links to memes, videos of friends dancing to the theme song and images of people wearing bucket hats. Sigh, that bucket hat. One of Richardson’s own contributions that, for better or worse, came to define Portia in the cultural zeitgeist.

“Here’s the thing. I made that hat. I crochet,” Richardson says. “I have a crochet side hustle, and I crocheted that hat and I really pushed for it to be Portia’s little vacation hat. And so, you all can thank me for that one.”

Conceived by costume designer Alex Bovaird, Portia’s wardrobe was a blend of thrift store and Instagram and TikTok trends that didn’t always seem to mesh well. It also became something of a poster child for Gen Z fashion. Richardson, who is slightly older than Portia and considers herself maybe 80% Gen Z and 20% millennial, wasn’t expecting to be at the center of a nationwide discourse regarding her character’s outfits. Vogue even asked its readers, “The White Lotus: Are Portia’s Outfits Good or Bad?”

“I wasn’t thinking I need to represent this stereotype of Gen Z,” Richardson says. “But I was definitely thinking of myself, things I felt, what’s on the page, younger people that I know, just empathizing and imagining and pulling from what it’s like growing up, being in your young 20s in 2022. It’s a weird world. She’s definitely a child of that.”

What Richardson took away the most from her experience as part of the HBO phenomenon was the chance to finally work with White. A longtime fan, she’d written White a letter years before the first season of “White Lotus,” hoping to find a way to collaborate with him. Her patience was worth the wait.

“He’s goofy, but in this internal way. He’s very observant, which is why he is such a great writer,” Richardson says. “He cares a lot about what he works on in this show. On the day we wrapped, we had Champagne and cake, and he cried giving a speech to the whole crew saying just how much it means to him. And I felt that the whole way through. He came up with this, wrote all the episodes, directs every episode. You just feel the care and the passion from him.”


Haley Lu Richardson x LoveSac

Haley Lu Richardson x LoveSac

Haley Lu Richardson Has a Special Trick for Getting *That* Stain off Your Couch
Turns out, we all need to invest in a sectional with machine-washable covers.

I’ve spent hours on the couch flipping through Netflix, working from home, and using it as a place for my friends to crash after impromptu visits. Here’s the thing: Couches—just like most home decor—can be quite expensive. Although the instinct for many might be to buy the easiest, cheapest thing you find online; having an investment piece that will grow with you through the years is definitely worth it, and it’s an idea Haley Lu Richardson backs up 100 percent.

In honor of Lovesac’s 25th anniversary, the White Lotus star joined a roster of celebs (including Travis Barker, Shaun White, and Brandy) to celebrate the furniture store’s milestone with a campaign centered around rewriting the rules of comfort. Known for their removable and machine-washable fabric (with over 250 fabric cover choices), the partnership was a no-brainer for Richardson, who shared that it was her parent’s affinity for the brand that first introduced her to Lovesac.

Below, Cosmo speaks to Haley about her intimate relationship with her couch—which she admits has seen some “rated-R” moments, how she feels the most comfortable at home, and whether her White Lotus character, Portia, would have one.

I heard you and Lovesac go way back. How did this partnership come to be?
Well, I knew of Lovesac because I grew up with this Lovesac couch that my parents have always been obsessed with. Literally, it’s been years and years, and they will not shut up about it. Whenever a guest comes over they have to rearrange their couch in front of their guests to show them how much they love this gosh darn couch. I knew of Lovesac because of that, but then I saw that mixture of other people included in this campaign, which was like Travis Barker and Brandy, and it was such an eclectic, fun mix. It was genuinely so fun, and I can’t wait for this commercial that we shot to come out, because, to be honest, I’m honestly more proud of this commercial than I’ve been about some movies I’ve done in the past.

I’m curious…do you remember what it was like furnishing your first apartment after moving out of your parents’ house and leaving your Lovesac couch behind?
Oh my god, it was so… It’s such a mark of freedom and adulthood. And it’s this continuation of not just getting to know yourself but also then getting to express yourself in your own personal space and surrounding yourself with the things that you picked out, you bought, you worked hard for, and that really represent you. I’ve honestly just been doing that recently in the last couple years. When I lived with my ex partner, we read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I got so into it, and he did too. Together we just purged all of our hand-me-down furniture, and we actually picked out things intentionally that felt like us. And you know, you feel really accomplished when you make your space and have the money and time and connection to your own tastes to be able to do that. It takes time to get there. So we did that together, and that was kind of my first stage of ever doing anything like that. Now since I’ve been alone, it’s been like a whole new stage of doing that. I have a lot of pink in my house now. I’ve got a lot of pink. I’m all about comfort and cozy, but also like, cool.

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In Conversation with Haley Lu Richardson

Haley Lu Richardson has quickly emerged as one of the leading young actors of her generation, with her starring role in the second season of HBO’S highly popular series ‘The White Lotus’. Next, we’ll be able to see Haley in Netflix’s ‘Love at First Sight’, which is premiering later this year.

Haley, we’ve been able to watch you in HBO’s highy succesful series ‘The White Lotus’, where you portrayed Portia. How was it working on such a popular series and with this phenomenal cast?

It was pretty cool, as you would imagine. I had really wanted to work with Mike White for years, so that was kind of like a dream come true in a way. There’s all these things that in life and in this acting career are like aspirations and dreams. I’m like “Oh, that would be so cool if this happened or if I could work with this person”. When one of them actually comes true, it’s just really exciting and cool.

This show is such a special thing to him. It’s all Mike, he created this show and he wrote every episode, directed every episode. It’s his baby. So to be picked by him and be able to meet him and be a part of that was cool. Being a part of a big ensemble, finding my place in the tone and within the bigger picture was challenging in some ways, but I’m really thankful for it.

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Vanity Fair Oscar Party – Portraits

Photoshoots / Portraits > 2023 > Session #003 (Vanity Fair Oscar Party Portraits) ♥♥♥

SAG Awards Nominations – Portraits

Portraits of Haley Lu and her cat Darbin after she announced this year’s SAG Awards Nominations with Ashley Park on Instagram.

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