On Riverdale, Camila Mendes gets to play the opinionated, pop-culture-heavy, fiery Veronica Lodge. Her character is privileged and comes from family money, a trope that is not uncommon for teen dramas (Gossip Girl, The O.C., 90210) — but that is deeply uncommon for mainstream portrayals of Latin families.
In a new interview, the Brazilian American actress delves into her experiences auditioning for roles as a Latina and into the significance of her character on the Latino community.
“It’s just so refreshing to see a different story being told for Latin families,” the 23-year-old told People Chica. “The Lodge family is a much-needed departure from the underprivileged, sleazy Latino drug-dealers we’re used to seeing in entertainment. It’s rare that you see Latin families being portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated, and powerful entities.”
Mendes also revealed that while Riverdale is her first acting role, she is already “starting to see the issues” in Hollywood casting.
“I often hear things like, ‘You don’t look Latina enough, ‘ and that mentality is so backwards,” she continued. “The fact is: I am Latina, so how are you going to tell me that I don’t look Latina?”
She is, of course, correct; in telling a Latina that she does not look “Latina enough,” casting directors are not supporting and hiring underrepresented communities but instead perpetuating stereotypes of what Latinos should look like. Dictating who is and is not Latina based on their physical appearance is harmful and denies those actors of their identities.
Fortunately, Mendes has found a home on the hit teen drama. Season 2 of Riverdale premieres Wednesday, October 11.