Meghann Fahy never anticipated landing a part on The White Lotus’s sophomore season. “I actually auditioned for the first season,” the actress tells W. “The second season came as a huge surprise for me, but the best surprise ever.” Fahy ultimately snagged the role of Daphne Sullivan, the curiously upbeat wife of Cameron, played by Theo James, who’s vacationing with Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) on the HBO series that became a cultural phenomenon. Not only did more than 4.1 million viewers tune in for The White Lotus’s season 2 finale, but the series also racked up 23 Emmy nominations for the 2023 awards show. (For her part, Fahy is up for an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series trophy—alongside her costars Jennifer Coolidge, Sabrina Impacciatore, Simona Tabasco, and Plaza.) Below, the Massachusetts native discusses her teenage obsession with The O.C. and fangirling over Taylor Swift.
This interview was conducted prior to the start of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.
How would you describe your White Lotus character, Daphne Sullivan?
Aubrey Plaza actually helped me coin the term “Zen Mommy,” which is what we used to describe Daphne. That’s her to a T. She’s one of these women you see on Instagram who always has a baby on her hip and is wearing this effortlessly flowy, beautiful dress that probably cost her $4,000. Everything seems simple, and that was Daphne to me. She’s my Zen Mommy.
Were you a theatrical child?
I was a performer as a child, but not really in a theatrical space. I sang a lot as a kid. I performed locally, but I never really dreamed of being an actor. I guess I always thought I was going to be a singer. And then here I am.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
Meeting Taylor Swift was…I couldn’t have been more starstruck. I almost threw up before meeting her. I saw her from across the room, and I just started crying involuntarily. I was so embarrassed. I was like, I cannot say hello to her with tears in my eyes. I have to pretend to be seminormal, but I don’t think I fooled her. She put her arm around me, and she was like, you’re fine. She watched [The White Lotus], which was insane. That was a true highlight for me.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I have a couple. “Stan,” by Eminem, is one of them. I’ve had a very strange fascination with Eminem for a long time, and I know a lot of his songs, but “Stan” in particular is one that I find to be just kind of genius.
Did you have any crushes on TV characters as a kid?
In high school, I was a big O.C. fan, and I was very, very split between Ben McKenzie and Adam Brody. Those two characters, the Ryan/Seth thing, were very both sides of my heart: the funny guy, and then also the brooding guy who wears a choker and tank tops.
What was the first acting job that you got paid to do?
Being the understudy in an off-Broadway show called Next to Normal. It ultimately did go to Broadway, and I was able to take over the role when my friend Jennifer Damiano, who originated it, left to do Spider-Man. I had moved to New York after high school to do that; I’d gone to an open call. I really didn’t want to go. My mom kind of nudged me. I’m so happy she did because it changed my entire life. But I didn’t go to college. I didn’t have a plan at all. There’s a part of me that, every time I get to do another project, still is like, Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. Cool! I get to keep doing this?
What was your first on-screen kiss?
My first kiss on-screen was in a movie called The Lost Valentine, for Hallmark, where I played a young Betty White, which is the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten to do. I was so lucky to meet her that early in my career. She taught me that you can be the most successful person and still be super down-to-earth, kind, and all of the things that you hope somebody as amazing as her is.
Do you have a secret skill that we’d be surprised to know about?
I can usually locate someone’s nipples on my first try through their shirt. If someone’s standing in front of me, I can always land right on the nipple at the first go.
How did you find out you were good at that?
That’s a great question. I don’t know. I just started grabbing nips. No complaints yet.
Hair by Edward Lampley at CLM for Mr. Smith; makeup by Susie Sobol at PM Artists for Sobol Inc; manicure by Honey at Exposure NY for NAVYA Nail Lacquer; Set Design by Spencer Vrooman.
Produced by AP Studio, Inc.; Executive Producer: Alexis Piqueras; Producer: Anneliese Kristedja; Production Managers: Anna Blundell, David Duque-Estrada; Production Coordinator: Ellen Kozarits; Photo Assistants: Matt Yoscary, Josua Jimenez; Retouching: Matty So; Fashion Assistants: Tori López, Tyler VanVranken, India Reed, Tori Leung; Production Assistants: Linette Estrella, Ariana Kristedja, Alan Bell, Nico Marti, Ryan Qiu; Hair Assistants: Marvin Tarver, Anna Soares; Makeup Assistants: Tanya Marques, Riccardo Delgado; Manicure Assistant: Shani Newsome; Tailor: Lindsay Wright; Set Design Assistants: Will Cragoe, Christina O’Neil, Joseph Ahern.