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Actor, writer, and musician Micheal Imperioli spoke at The Kelly Writers House on Feb. 16. Credit: Derek Wong

On Thursday, "The White Lotus" and "The Sopranos" actor, writer, and musician Michael Imperioli spoke at Kelly Writers House.  

The talk was moderated by Anthony DeCurtis, distinguished lecturer in the creative writing program at Penn and a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. 

Imperioli talked about his work on both the critically acclaimed TV series “The Sopranos and “The White Lotus" and some of the challenges he faced.

“Collaboration is hard,” Imperioli said. “Most of the people I’ve collaborated with I’m no longer friends with.”

However, he added that collaboration on “The Sopranos” was easier since the writers shared a stake in developing all the characters throughout the series. 

Most recently, Imperioli acted in the second season of the TV series “The White Lotus." 

After watching the first season, Imperioli said he fell in love with the series and wanted to be a part of it. He got the role as Dominic Di Grasso following two rounds of auditions.

Imperioli also read a section of his 2018 novel, “The Perfume Burned His Eyes," which tells the story of Matthew, a 16-year-old boy who moves from Queens to Manhattan. Matthew meets and subsequently befriends Lou Reed, who soon becomes a father figure to Matthew.

Imperioli initially began writing the story in hopes of relating to his then 16-year-old son. However, the story ended up taking another direction after Imperioli began writing.  

“The story, more so than [one of coming-of-age], is one of passing the baton of artistic inspiration,” Imperioli said.

Imperioli said his book is about “being an outsider, about not being understood.” The idea to add Reed as a character in the novel came following his death in 2013. 

Imperioli said that Reed’s portrayal in the novel reflects his real-life persona. “Lou could be a very acerbic and nasty guy, but also warm and sensitive,” Imperioli said.

Following the discussion with DeCurtis, Imperioli was asked audience questions. One Penn student asked how to “enter the creative sector at a time when it is harder and more precarious to do so.”

Imperioli replied that it is easier than ever to do creative work. He said that the internet allows people to make videos, songs, and books with limited resources and self-promote and distribute their work.

“If that is your burning desire, that’s what you have to do," Imperioli said. "Don't be discouraged by the state of things because it’s always been hard."