Riverdale star Camila Mendes talks to Porter about life after the teen horror hit show and navigating the fickleness of fame
Camila Mendes is currently filming the seventh and final season of the cult supernatural teen horror Riverdale. While anyone else might view the ending of the hit series – which made the Brazilian-American actor a global star, with 27.2 million Instagram followers to her name – as the opportunity for a well-deserved break, Mendes is doing quite the opposite
Riverdale was Mendes’ first acting job out of college, and she is determined not to rest on her laurels. Mendes explains, “I don’t keep myself busy because I don’t like being idle; I keep myself busy because I have anxiety about my career. I’ve always been in that frame of mind. I understand that this industry is so fickle. Fame is fleeting. You can be successful, but you’re only as good as your last thing.”
While fame is something Mendes can certainly take or leave, social media is more complicated for a star on her ascent and she is torn between wanting to keep her personal life private and still engaging with her millions of followers.
Mendes says, “It feels like everyone’s competing for attention and there’s this real fear that, if you’re not relevant, if you’re not being talked about for something, then you’ll be forgotten and you won’t get work. […] If I woke up tomorrow and all my followers were gone, I’m sure it would drive me insane; I’d probably go into a full spiral. That’s the unhealthy thing about it. It would threaten my career and my livelihood, which is crazy.”
If her last project, Do Revenge, is anything to go by, Mendes has nothing to be anxious about. The smart and witty high-school movie proved to be so much more than a teen drama and her role was particularly compelling. “Characters like Drea don’t come around often. And they especially don’t come around often for Latinas. So I was like, I’ve really got to take advantage of this opportunity. I would hate myself if I had passed on it.”
Mendes reflects on the lack of opportunities in the industry for the Latinx community. “[Even] characters in movies that are written to be Latin are never Brazilian; they are always from a different country. We have a whole audience here desperate to see themselves represented on screen; why aren’t we taking advantage of that?”
Mendes found herself relating to the Do Revenge storyline where her character, Drea, is the most popular girl in school – until an intimate video is leaked online and she teams up with another classmate (Maya Hawke) to exact revenge. “I can relate to the feeling of wanting to get back at those who have hurt you. After the project wrapped, I ended up experiencing something that brought me closer to the story. It was something that left me in a lot of pain. The film is so relatable – not just for me, but for anybody… Anybody knows what that feeling is like to be driven by anger and resentment.”
She reflects on how she manages these emotions. “I think the only way to overcome those feelings is to accept them and allow yourself to feel them. What got in my way was trying to act like I wasn’t angry.”
Mendes has recently filmed two major new projects, which she is executive-producing. She has teamed up with Rachel Matthews for Upgraded, “a Devil Wears Prada-esque rom-com set in the art auctioning world” and musician Rudy Mancuso for his directorial debut, Música, about a Brazilian-American man with synesthesia. The latter proved to be a particularly profound experience.
“I was like, I can’t just be the female romantic lead, let me be the female voice of this project. I could cry thinking about it, it meant so much to me. I’ll never forget that experience and I don’t know when I’m going to get it again.”
This is an excerpt from Porter’s cover feature. To see the full interview read Porter.