Simona Tabasco’s Meteoritic Rise

Before she walked the halls of The White Lotus, Simona was already on the radar in Italy.

Simona Tabasco
Italian actress Simona Tabasco. Déluge, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In late 2022, Simona Tabasco burst onto international screens as Sicilian sex worker Lucia Greco, in the HBO comedy-drama anthology series The White Lotus. She charmed both characters and viewers alike, and has since won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, as well as starred in campaigns for Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS underwear line and also Tiffany & Co, together with White Lotus co-star and long-time, real-life friend Beatrice Grannò. In March of this year, she was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe.

While her star is on the rise in America, she’s been a regular presence on our screens in Italy, in tv, film, and music videos. Here, we chart her meteoric rise from indie films to HBO.

The beginning

The Naples native was born 5 April 1995, but would make her screen debut in two short films presented at the Giffoni Film Festival in 2013, after being discovered by directors while on a beach holiday with her family in Italy. The following year, she would be cast as a young Muslim girl Aida Merlissi on Fuoriclasse, a teen drama tv series set in Turin and broadcasted on Rai 1 — the series was a massive success nationally, and it ran from 2014 until 2015. Simona was famously expelled from Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome as filming for this series interrupted her studies.

In 2015 she appeared as the daughter of the protagonist in Italian neo-noir Perez, a fictional story about the Naples mafia, co-starring with Luca Zingaretti and Marco D’Amore. The film was critically acclaimed, and Simona would go on to receive the Galà del Cinema e della Fiction in Campania and the Premio Guglielmo Biraghi at the 2015 Nastro d’Argento awards.

She would earn her big break in Italy as Nunzia in the comedy-drama È arrivata la felicità, another tv series this time filmed in Rome. For the remainder of the 2010s, Simona would continue to space out her acting roles, starring in two films (I babysitter and Bob & Marys, both comedy films from 2016 and 2019 respectively) and two tv series (I bastardi di Pizzofalcone, another short crime series set in Naples, and a single episode appearance in 1994).

The climax

Despite the start of the pandemic in 2020 (and the devastating effects of Covid on Italy), Simona would take on the role of Elisa Russo in the Rai1 production Doc – Nelle tue mani, a doctor of internal medicine with a difficult past. She plays the role of a delivery girl in the film Lacci (The Ties) — a romantic drama based on the novel of the same name by Domenico Starnone — released in 2020, and would be the last as she would train her focus on television.

In 2021 she would make her streaming debut as the titular role of Nora in an original Netflix Italy series called Luna Park, a romance-drama set in 1960s Rome. The big break arrives in 2022 as Simona wins the role of Lucia in season two of The White Lotus, filmed on location in Sicily and flanked by Italian talents Beatrice Grannò and veteran actor Sabrina Impacciatore, joining their American co-stars Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza, and F. Murray Abraham. The second season grew in success, hitting 4.1 million US viewers for the finale, and Simona’s star launched onto the international stage, eventually getting snapped up by talent agency WME.

In February of this year it was announced that Simona will be joining the cast of Immaculate, an American horror film by Michael Mohan set in the Italian countryside. Simona has captured the imaginations and hearts of people around the world, and together with Måneskin are cultural ambassadors of 21st Century Italy for a younger generation.