Take one glimpse at her signature jet black hair and seemingly unwavering confidence, and it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Camila Mendes playing Veronica Lodge on Riverdale, the hit soapy teen drama that just wrapped its second season on The CW. So hard, in fact, that its almost laughable at this point that the role almost went to someone else.
“I had the most harrowing audition process,” Mendes said, sitting in hair and makeup in a Chinatown hotel suite, about to walk to a nearby skate park. “They were like, ‘You’re our top choice, but we want to open up a new search, and we want someone that can compete with you,’” she went on. “I lost sleep, I was crying every night because it felt like I was so close to something that could be big, and like my life and career changing, but in the end it all worked out.”
To say it “worked out” for the 23-year-old actress is something of an understatement. In what may seem like the blink of an eye, Mendes went from normal college student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to the forefront of an international teen culture sensation. “It’s crazy to me that people all over the world from all walks of life can find a reason to watch it,” Mendes said. Take this anecdote, for example: While working on a film in Texas just a few months ago, Mendes was approached at a local whiskey bar by someone exclaiming, “Hey! You’re that girl from Riverdale!” The culprit? A 40-something man. Talk about cultural reach.
But though she might be most recognizable as the polished Veronica Lodge, Mendes in real life is starkly different from the character she plays on television—case in point, today she arrived for her photo shoot in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers; Veronica would never! “I like clothes that I can move in and feel good in,” she explained. But the two do share some common ground, naturally. “I relate to Veronica in that aspect of being the new girl because I felt like I was the new girl a lot,” Mendes said, acknowledging that Veronica’s arrival at Riverdale High—where she was swiftly labeled an outsider before being adopted into the gang’s inner circle—hit close to home. “But I’m so glad that I was because I feel like now I’m so good at meeting people. I feel comfortable in pretty much any situation, and what better quality to have in an industry like this?” Continue reading