The White Lotus star talks Valentina's powerful 'epiphany' in episode 6 and teases the 'shocking' finale

Warning: this article contains spoilers from Sunday's episode 6 of The White Lotus.

It was a very happy birthday indeed for Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) on The White Lotus.

In this week's episode 6, "Abductions," it seemed as if the buttoned-up, closeted resort manager was destined to spend her birthday alone after she learned the employee she'd been crushing on, Isabella (Eleonora Romandini), was actually in a secret relationship with Valentina's most-hated employee Rocco (Federico Ferrante). Upon learning that Rocco is actually Isabella's boyfriend, Valentina canceled their after-work plans to get a drink to celebrate her birthday, and was planning to sulk alone until Mia (Beatrice Grannò) struck up a conversation with her at the hotel bar.

After Valentina gets a little drunk, she confesses she's never even kissed a woman before, so Mia convinces her to finally let loose and spend the night together in an empty hotel suite as payment for allowing her to continue singing in the bar. Below, Impacciatore tells EW how their night together is "life-changing" for Valentina, plus she teases why people are going to "freak out" after watching next week's season 2 finale.

Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO Sabrina Impacciatore HBO The White Lotus Season 2 - Episode 6
Photograph by Fabio Lovino/HBO Sabrina Impacciatore HBO The White Lotus Season 2 - Episode 6

Fabio Lovino/HBO Sabrina Impacciatore on 'The White Lotus'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You've been doing amazing work all season long but this episode in particular is a big one for your character, Valentina.

SABRINA IMPACCIATORE: I didn't watch it yet. You've watched it before me because I wait every time to watch the episodes [when they air].

Do you normally watch the episodes on your own or do you watch with other people?

I don't like to watch it alone because I would feel too upset. But I don't like to watch it with people that I don't know. I'm watching it with people that I care for. For example, last Sunday, I was watching it with a few dear friends and with [fellow season 2 cast members] Adam DiMarco and Jon Gries. And now we're trying to get all together for the finale. It helps watching with the people you've been working with because an actor, when watching their own work, feels very vulnerable — so naked, so vulnerable — that I don't feel comfortable if I watch it with people that I don't know, like at a party for example.

That makes sense, especially in this episode where Valentina goes to a very vulnerable place.

I remember very well what I felt and everything I was feeling was real. I was not acting. I really was feeling it.

Now that Valentina has kissed a woman for the first time and spent the night with Mia, how is that going to impact her moving forward into the finale?

This moment, to me, was the topic of the character, like the climax of what could happen to these characters, because this moment to Valentina is an epiphany. Until this moment, she didn't know enough about herself. She's like, until this moment, frozen. She was not living her nature. She was trying to ignore and avoid herself. She was so scared to live her inner nature. She was a workaholic trying to have control of her life, through work, through her job. So she was very tough in her job, so aggressive, and somehow she just was trying not to face herself. She's a very lonely person with no private life. The only moment of truth is when she gives the food to the kittens, because she is like a little kitten inside herself. That scene helped me a lot to understand the character. Sometimes people that love to be with animals have big issues with human beings and Valentina is so not at ease in human relationships. She can only deal with her position of power, and so she can treat people how she feels most comfortable with. She feels safe, because she's wearing an armor.

Valentina inside herself is like a child, someone so innocent and so naive that develops a crush on the first person that pays attention to her, Isabella. And then she actually gets [rejected], and when Mia pushes her and leads her to what happened, that is the moment that makes Valentina set herself free. It's a life-changing moment. I was thinking about that moment like the volcano Etna erupting. It's very, very important and it's going to affect her future for sure. And it's connected to another thing that I don't want to spoil accidentally. But it was very touching to me to make this journey, and to really feel it with my own feelings how much some people can struggle because they are not able to face their inner nature, because they're trying to deny who they really are. And that was very moving to me.

Tell me more about how it felt bringing Valentina's journey toward self-acceptance to life onscreen.

In Italy, to be gay is a big issue, still. In Italy, we still fight for the rights of the queer community because legally the queer community doesn't have the same rights of heterosexual people. And this to me has always been a theme, something I stand for, because, I mean, we all love — we can't have different rights just because some people love people of the same sex. So when I got this role, as an Italian actress, I felt so proud that I could use this role to stand for the queer community that always struggles. They cannot get married in Italy, we have the Vatican and they [enforce that LGBTQ people] cannot get married, they cannot have children, they often are punched in the street if they walk with someone of the same sex.

That's why also this character was so meaningful to me and I'm so grateful that I had the chance to play this character. I think it's my responsibility as an actress to bring awareness to that [issue]. And [creator] Mike [White] is a genius because he really makes us reflect on our darkness, on our misery, on our inner nature, on what we are trying to hide, how we want to represent ourselves, and our real nature. I'm grateful that an artist like Mike White has such a big voice in the world now.

What can you tease about where everything is heading in the finale?

[Laughs] I feel uncomfortable talking about the seventh episode. I still haven't even watched the sixth episode! Of course, I remember what I read in the script but still there are parts that are still mysterious to me. I knew all the scripts but every time I watch the show, it's so surprising to me that I need to watch it twice, three times. So I cannot really tease about what's going to happen. I can only say that what is going to happen in the final episode is shocking and people are really going to freak out.

The White Lotus airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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