Camila Mendes has a heavy weight on her shoulders for her first big role. In fact, playing the iconic Veronica Lodge in The CW‘s Riverdale is her first role in Hollywood ever. The 22-year-old Miami native stars in the unique take on the Archie Comics characters, some of whom have been around since 1941.
Veronica is the new kid at Riverdale High School and she’s rich, unlike many of her classmates. She catches the attention of Archie (K.J. Apa), although she knows that Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) also likes Archie. Unfortunately for both of them, Archie is a bit preoccupied after having a summer fling with his music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel).
Here’s a look at Mendes’ life and how she was cast to play Veronica.
1. She’s Been Dating Ian Wallace for at Least 3 Years
Mendes has been dating a man named Ian Wallace for at least three years. In September, she posted the above photo to celebrate their three-year anniversary.
“Three Years with this charmer,” she wrote in the caption. “Grateful for the endless inspiration and unconditional love that you give me. I love you so much, Ian Wallace, and I am lucky to fully experience just how rare and special you are. Happy Anniversary, love.”
Mendes, who is also fluent in Prtuguese, attended the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She also attended the Stonestreet Film Acting Conservatory for two semesters.
2. She Wasn’t Interested in Playing Veronica Until She Heard the Producers Were Making Her Latina
In an interview with Coveteur, Mendes said that she didn’t think she woul want to play Veronica when she saw a character breakdown that listed Veronica as “multicultural.”
“My agent said, ‘Oh, you know they are probably going to cast a Krysten Ritter type.’ A white pin-up-looking girl. I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right!’ So I disregarded it,” she told the magazine. But when she heard from a friend that the producers of Riverdale wanted to make Veronica Latina, she had to jump on the chance.
“So I call my agent immediately and I was like, ‘You need to get me in that room,'” Mendes told Coveteur. “She told me, ‘Don’t worry, we’re on it.'”
Mendes said she was told she was the last person given an opportunity to audition on the very last day. She wasn’t told right away if she got the part, and she had an agonizing winter break because she really wanted the role. She knew getting this part would take her career to a new level.
“Either my life was going to change and could transform into something I’ve always dreamed of, or it would just go about the way it was as if nothing ever happened,” she told Coveteur. “That was a really scary thought, that I could get so close to something that honestly felt so right. I had never felt so confident about playing a character in my life as I did with Veronica.”
3. She Understands What Veronica Is Like in the Comics
While K.J. Apa admitted that he didn’t know anything about Archie Comics before joining the show, Mendes appears to know a few things about the original character of Veronica.
In her Teen Vogue interview, she said that her version of Veronica has a bit more depth.
“In the comics, Veronica doesn’t really have much conflict,” Mendes told Teen Vogue. “Her onsets are very trivial, like ‘What shoes am I going to wear to the ball?’ It’s very material kind of conflict, or conflicts that revolve around Archie. Now she’s gone through this traumatic event — having her father being arrested for fraud on a very public level — and having that bring shame to her life. It’s completely humbled her.”
She told the magazine that Veronica is “more grounded now and wants to take life into her own hands.”
“These characters are timeless, they’re universal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play with them, and reinvent them, and tell their stories in a different context,” Mendes told Teen Vogue.
4. Mendes Thought Her Inexperience Would Give Her Trouble on the Set of ‘Riverdale’
In an interview with Da Man magazine, Mendes said she was so unfamiliar with the TV world while filming the Riverdale pilot that she thought her inexperience would be an inconvenience.
“I remember there was one point during the pilot episode where one of the camera operators told me that I’m really good at hitting my marks. And I took it as the biggest compliment,” Mendes told the magazine. “As a newcomer, your biggest fear is that your inexperience will somehow inconvenience everyone else. So, when he told me that, it was such a relief.”
“Aside from being downright entertaining, it’s a visually stunning show with an incredibly talented cast. You will fall in love with these characters,” she told Da Man.
5. Veronica Isn’t Supposed to be Bisexual on ‘Riverdale’
During the Riverdale pilot, Veronica kisses Betty to help her get on the cheerleading squad. However, Mendes told TVLine that the kiss wasn’t supposed to be romantic. She doesn’t think Veronica is supposed to be bisexual, but it’s not something the writers have figured out yet.
“That moment, I don’t think was supposed to be a romantic one,” she told TVLine. “I think that was a way to get Cheryl’s attention. Veronica is a manipulative person. She just wanted to take hold of the situation. But that being said, it wouldn’t be out of the question for her to be bisexual, and maybe she is, and maybe that’s something that could be explored one day. But it’s not something we’ve really decided on.”