Soon after its July premiere, The White Lotus became the show of the summer. Creator and showrunner Mike White’s HBO project had layers, much like Tanya, played by Jennifer Coolidge (and Shrek). It touched on colonialism, imperialism, white privilege, pretty privilege, the one percent, and the sense of fantasy that vacations, especially ones at the esteemed White Lotus hotel, give visitors. Refreshing, upsetting, and not without its blind spots, the six-episode limited series delivered a concise, incisive tragic story about a set of unlikable, but extremely watchable characters while commenting on the plight of going against — and then succumbing to — The (White) Man.
Sarah Ramos should have been one of those terrible people.
The actress, writer, and director — also known for her viral Quaranscenes project as well as her side hustle as an autograph hound and pop culture obsessive — auditioned for the show last year during quarantine for the part of Rachel, the freelance journalist on her honeymoon with rich man child Shane (Jake Lacy). Alexandra Daddario would go on to get the role, and Ramos would go on to being the show’s biggest fangirl. (Ramos told Refinery29 she didn’t hear back after she submitted the audition tape, in which she impressively plays not only Rachel, but also Olivia and Paula.)
Upon hearing the show was renewed for a second season, White Lotus fans started brainstorming what the next iteration could and should look like. And while there are many options of who should be cast, there is only one correct answer: Ramos, Mike White and White Lotus’ #1 fan.
The day after the show’s finale, Ramos Zoomed with Refinery29 to talk about channeling a lost role into becoming a White Lotus fangirl and her manifestations for the next season.
Mike White, consider this her audition tape (again). She’ll meet you at check-in.
Refinery29: Sarah, thank you for discussing The White Lotus with me. It is obviously an urgent matter. I wanted to talk to you about the finale and your one-person campaign to get on season 2. I feel like people are going to be agree and say, yeah, let's get Sarah on the show.
Sarah Ramos: “Thank you so much. I was really flattered that you watched the show because of me. Did you watch it after I was tweeting about it?”
I saw you tweeting and I also saw you posted the audition tape.
“That was my actual audition for season one. It wasn't like a video I did after the show came out — it was from before anybody was cast. I was reading for Rachel who Daddario played, and I think everybody did a great job. I love Mike.”
Wait, how many degrees removed are you from Mike White?
“We've met before. We have mutual [friends] and one of them connected us years ago and he read my script and sent me an email and I printed it out and put it on my wall. We’ve talked on the phone. So we're in the same vicinity.
When you read the first script for White Lotus, what did you think?
”I thought the show was so funny. I didn't even know that Tanya was going to be Jennifer Coolidge, which obviously brought a whole new layer of comedy to it. Mike White highlights absurd but really small character quirks that we all have, like Tanya getting a massage and becoming obsessed with Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and following Belinda around. That's the main takeaway that I remember — I don't even remember Armand in the script or anything like that. I mostly remember being like, ‘Oh my God, this Belinda-Tanya storyline is really funny.’”
I feel like the internet is obsessed with Sydney and Brittany.
“One thing about that is before I read the script, one of the producers of the show was like, ‘Oh, yeah, there is this Sarah Ramos-type,’ referring to the terrifying girls who Mike White [has said] are the scariest types of girls alive. So him comparing me to the scariest girls on the show was kind of what inspired me to be like, ‘Oh, in the audition scene, I should play them in addition to Rachel.’”
But you weren't auditioning for them, even though they were “Sarah Ramos types.”
“Maybe if I were that age now. Those kinds of roles — teens and young women — weren’t really depicted like that when I was auditioning to play like teens. I feel like the zeitgeist has become a lot weirder. Growing up, you were either Rory Gilmore or the girls in Thirteen. There was no in between.”
After auditioning and then seeing the show on screen, what made you become a fangirl? Would you call yourself a fangirl of White Lotus?
“Absolutely. I'm a Mike White fan, first and foremost. I would like to say that this has been a long time coming. He's in the zeitgeist, it is the show of the summer, and it kind of came out of nowhere.
“I did have to get over that initial FOMO of like, I auditioned, but I don't know if anybody saw it, and I want to be in this so bad. Sometimes, depending on the quality of the project, you don't get past that. But there was definitely just a turning point where I manically was obsessed with the show. I was like, I need to post my audition. I did. I posted it three times.”
Now that it’s renewed, do you have any ideas for a role for you in season 2?
“Well, I would defer to Mike White, but let me imagine. I would love to play a publicist, maybe a publicist handling one of their client’s faux pas — a really stupid, embarrassing situation and trying to figure out how to spin it and her vacation being ruined by that. I could also play a makeup artist. I'm obsessed with the creation of celebrity and the appearance of fabulousness that rich people have. There are glam squads, stylists, the hair stylist, the makeup artist, the PR people all working behind the scenes to make them look fabulous, but they are kind of in the gig economy and showing up whenever you call them.”
Or even Molly Shannon’s character coming in for a little bit. Maybe you could be the glam squad person that comes in and shakes things up for like three episodes.
“I’m picturing a three-episode arc: I have to fly in for the event. I got that drop-of-the-hat call and it's on my husband's birthday and our marriage is on the rocks. I fly to the White Lotus or this stupid event and everything goes wrong, but I've made this huge personal sacrifice for my job that doesn’t pay off.”
And you're just a side player and now your life is ruined. But your client got her spray tan. It's like that.
“And then my client doesn’t even end up attending the event because she didn’t feel like it.”
You tweeted that you’re losing your personality now that the show’s over — what’s your interim personality?
“I have a new reenactment video series called Reesenactments, which is about Reese Witherspoon’s filmography. So I'm going to try to go through all of Reese Witherspoon’s filmography [and reenact scenes]. It felt really exciting because when I was Googling for my [Mike White] thread I posted when I was watching the first episode, I saw paparazzi photos of him and Reese out to lunch.”
I do think the show was so well cast with a big asterisk. The asterisk being you need to be cast in season 2.
“Put it out there. Tell everyone you know to reach out to Mike White. I can't control what I'm manifesting, but I'm manifesting. See, I didn't know you were going to interview me about the finale, but my energy is powerful.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.