No sooner do Haley Lu Richardson, and I begin chatting than our conversation is interrupted by a very special guest. "Here's my little boy," she announces, scooping up her cat—his name is Darbin—and holding him up to the screen. He's long-haired, with the kind of flat face that makes cats look permanently grumpy. "He looks like a little curmudgeon," Richardson agrees. "When I got him a year ago, when he was a few months old, he looked like a grown man. Even when he's cute and gentle, he has this permanent Ron Swanson face."
Darbin has been a key source of companionship for the Richardson as she's been adjusting to living independently for the first time in years. "I had always had my parents or a boyfriend, a life partner," she says. "But the last couple years, I haven't had my parents [living with me], and then I've been a single woman, so I'm getting used to that. It's a big adjustment in life." Darbin's companionship has been key to easing that adjustment, but there have been other simple pleasures: reality TV (Richardson considers herself a dating-show connoisseur), matcha, and crochet. "I guess my life's a little boring," she says with a laugh.
Given Richardson's current role on the second season of HBO's White Lotus, a show all about the most obnoxious indulgences of the privileged guests staying at an all-star resort, it's refreshing that the 27-year-old actress is so grounded and down-to-earth. Then again, that's not such a stretch in light of her character Portia, the put-upon assistant to Jennifer Coolidge's ostentatious Tanya. "I think she's the only guest that's not some rich person on vacation," Richardson says. "She's very unhappy with where she's at in life, and she's very much a stereotype of a Gen Z girl in a tough spot. I also think she's a bit of a narcissist, which is kind of fun. As the season continues, I got to explore how desperate and self-serving she is."
Playing Portia is a dream-come-true role for Richardson, who says she manifested her current position. "I wrote a scripting letter, and a part of my letter was working with Mike White. Then a couple of days later, I got the audition for season two," she says.
A dream job, a home of her own, and a feline friend to keep her company? These days, Richardson is living her best life. Read on for more about her ideal morning, her favorite place to buy candles, and her devotion to all-natural beauty.
Did you spend a lot of time alone during the pandemic?
Yeah. I'm an only child, so I like being alone, but I'd gotten used to craving alone time when I was always around people. Now, living alone, all my time is mine, so I'm craving people and external connection and love. It is hard sometimes because feeling lonely is a new thing for me, but I see the beauty of it. I'm getting to know myself more, and I'm like, "Oh my god, I love my life! Just me alone!" But sometimes, it gets a little dark. [Laughs]
What are some things you've rediscovered about yourself?
I'm learning all the beautiful things about being on your own and not owing anything to anyone else. There's beauty in having a partner, but in my house, I can do whatever I want, and whatever fills me up and makes me happy, and I'm not responsible for anything but me and Darbin.
For example, I love singing, but I'm a lousy singer. Still, I can walk around naked, playing whatever music I want on my sound system and singing at the top of my lungs because there's no one there to tell me that I'm annoying them. It's a simple thing that you can't really have when there's someone else there who doesn't like it. I've been dancing since I was a kid and doing a lot more of that, also naked. [Laughs] I'll light incense and candles at night, play Phoebe Bridgers, and do meditative or therapeutic dancing.
It is hard sometimes because feeling lonely is a new thing for me, but I see the beauty of it.
What are your favorite candles and incense?
Nag Champa is my go-to. I love that stuff. I've tried different scents and kinds, but that's what I think of when I think of incense. And honestly, I love going to Home Goods and going in their candle section and spending, like $300. I have dedicated drawers and cabinets for my candles, and my phone is currently propped up on a candle.
Do you have a morning routine, or do you keep it loose and see what each day brings?
A mixture of both. I like consistency, it's really good for me to have some routine, but I like having some open time too. I like having space in my planner daily to see if I want to sit around watching a dating show or go shopping at Goodwill. I wake up, brush my teeth, floss twice a day, do my skincare routine, and drink matcha with oat milk—a new thing I've been doing in the last year. I never drank caffeine every day, and I guess now that I'm in my late twenties, it's finally made its way into my life. [Laughs]
Well, you held off for a while.
I'm not too fond of the taste of coffee, and I only like it if it's 95 percent oat milk and there's some sweetener. Also, coffee really affects my bowels quite a bit, and it's not something I can drink regularly. [Laughs] Matcha is more gentle. Darbin comes up on my chest, and we snuggle while I have my matcha.
I've also been crocheting since I was eight-years-old and found myself in and out of consistency with it. But when I'm invested, I'm crocheting every day. I have a grocery store shopping area down the street from my house that I walk to a couple of days a week. And I also teach a weekly dance class to older adults.
Can you walk me through your skincare routine?
I'm very into my skincare routine and use products that are as natural as possible. I love Eminence Organics and use a face wash and exfoliator from the brand. I also use Derma-E's hyaluronic acid serum ($30). I love Starface pimple patches ($15), and then there's this brand called Squish that makes these gorgeous little floral patches with rhinestones at the center ($14). Fun pimple stickers are the best invention since sliced bread. I wish they existed when I was a teen because they make having acne fun.
Do you wear makeup?
Makeup is the same, and I try to use natural formulas. I love the Ilia skin tint, which is so many people's favorite these days, and it feels like I'm applying skincare when I put it on. I also love the brand 100% PURE, and all of its products are made from natural ingredients like fruit extracts and coffee beans. The brand's mascara is tinted with black tea, berries, and cocoa, and it's amazing. I like trying new things, but once something works, I like sticking with it because it takes time to come by something that works for your skin and preferences.
Do you prefer all-natural products outside of skincare as well?
Yes. I like eating food items that don't have a long ingredient list. I prefer the taste of a date with peanut butter to most desserts in a grocery store. I also succumbed to the Flo PMS pills, which are advertised on Instagram, and I feel like they're working. Usually, when I get my period—literally every month for the last fifteen years—I'd get a big hormonal zit on my chin. I've been taking the Flo vitamins for two months and haven't gotten one for the last two periods.
That's a good endorsement.
I should be getting paid for this. I really should. [Laughs]
What else do you like to do to treat yourself? Is there anything you like to read or watch?
Well, I always have been a big Bachelor fan, but now there are so many awful but amazing dating shows, and I'm watching them all. I'm watching Too Hot to Handle, Love Is Blind, Love Island, Fuckboy Island—literally all of them. I don't know what that's doing to my brain cells, but I know that it is fun. [Laughs] I'm pretty loyal to The Bachelor. Every season my best friend and I are like, "Oh, we don't like these girls," and then months later, we're meeting up every Monday night, watching and drinking wine.