THEN: You’ve been playing Betty Cooper on Riverdale for six seasons now, and we’ve gotten to see just how she’s changed and grown from the very sweet girl next door into a badass woman with superpowers. What was it like to see the evolution of this character from the beginning?
I mean, it's, it's funny because that truly was her character description. When we were first talking about promoting the show, I remember the phrase "girl next door" being thrown around so much. And I just feel like now, that's just so not who she is. She's always been a lot more than that. She, quite literally, is the girl next door to Archie. So, that aspect still rings true. And it's just been fun and beautiful to see [her grow]. I feel very fortunate to be on a show that has lasted this long, where you can really see a character develop and grow. I have such love for her and will really miss playing her when the show ends, but I very much cherish her as a character. And it's weird because when you play a character, the identity sometimes can be blurred. But when I watch Betty, that's very much Betty; it's not me. And so I will miss playing that specific character.
NOW: We see your Look Both Ways character Natalie also go on these two very different life journeys; what made you want to get involved with this movie?
I thought it was a very interesting setup for a non-typical rom-com. I thought it was a more elevated story than what you usually see for a love story and a story about a girl's journey with herself. Look Both Ways showing parallel lives brought in that sort of "hot topic" multiverse aspect that is just so hot right now. [Laughs] So it was good timing.
But I also really enjoyed the aspect of the happy endings in both lives. Natalie is a girl who has her challenges in each parallel life, and she experiences love, loss, and challenges with her career. But with her really strong ambition and creativity — I just think it was beautiful to see two different lives for this one woman and how her ambitions stayed the same. Even after having a child, she still was trying to make her career work and pursue that. I think that was a very important point for me to get across when promoting this movie. I think people have laid it out as, "Oh, one path she pursues her career. The other she has a baby and she doesn't." And it's like, no, that's absolutely not true.
That's why, when we were putting this film together, we wanted a director who was a working mother. Because it's not fiction; it's just not. So, showing this young woman who has a child, but also is pursuing what she has worked for, she doesn't just drop everything. It was really important for us. And that was one of my favorite parts of the movie.
THEN: You also executive produced and starred in Chemical Hearts. What was it like getting to combine work on the creative and business sides for the first time?
Chemical Hearts was such an interesting process, having it be my first producing role and being so young. I was 22 when we shot it, and 23 when it came out. To be in that position when I was so young, it felt almost like imposter syndrome, in a way, like, "People aren't really going to take me seriously," or "Maybe my opinion is going to be overlooked because of my age." But I'm very fortunate that Amazon really respected me in that position, and they listened to me. My input was very much a part of all the conversations, every script conversation, and everything with casting. Putting together the trailer, and the edit of the film, the score — I was involved in everything. To be just taken seriously in that way as a young woman felt very wonderful. And it was the same case with Look Both Ways. I was a very valued member of the community, and I'm very thankful to Netflix for giving me that opportunity as well. I think it's a good time for young women in this industry to be putting their boss pants on and being taken seriously, for sure. I'm like, "Hell yeah! Let's keep going!"
NOW: And now that you've done it a few times, how do you choose between future projects you want to produce and star in?
Well, it's different now. I do have my own production company, Small Victory Productions, and that has been going really wonderfully, really amazing. In the last year and a half, I've been hard, hard at work developing the projects that I'm going to do after Riverdale. I'm really trying to set up a slate of things for when the show ends, to jump right into because I know I'll be ready to dip my feet into all these different projects. I have so many exciting things on the horizon. I just get so excited to think about them.
The production company is great because I wanted to also be able to produce things that I'm not acting in and create more diversified roles. I don't want a white woman to be the lead role in everything that I do. So, I would like to produce projects that are more diverse and aren't just me as the lead, and tell different stories that I wouldn't necessarily really have room to be in. That's just fun to be on the producing side and to wear that hat. It's just fulfilling, and exciting, and fun.
BuzzFeed: That's incredible, can you tease any of those projects you have lined up after Riverdale?
I have a very exciting LGBTQ+ period piece that is in the works. That is so exciting for me because I've always been in love with period pieces. I grew up being so drawn to them like Marie Antoinette, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Dangerous Liaisons. I've always just loved the drama of period pieces, and adding that queer element is very exciting for me. So, that's something that's on the horizon.
THEN: One of your first big starring roles was in the indie movie Miss Stevens which you worked on with Lily Rabe and Timothée Chalamet. Do you have any favorite memories from that movie?
That was funny. That was when I was 18, a couple of months after I just moved to LA. I was so thrilled just to be working. And that was also kind of before Timmy's career took off. Getting to see him and work with him before that was such a pleasure. And working with Lily — I was such a fan of her work on American Horror Story — so I was very much like a fan girl when I was first around her. That movie was such a blast. I was so young. It was such a learning curve for me just to be on a set like that with these very well-respected "professional" big "top gun" actors in this movie. It was intimidating, for sure. I remember always texting the director Julia [Hart] after each day being like, "Was that okay?" And I even did that during Hustlers. I was very intimidated to be in a film with such wonderful actors that I felt insecure. I kept texting our director Lorene [Scafaria] and saying, "Am I playing this how you want?" I was just hoping that I wasn't going to be fired out of the blue. It was just my little insecurity imposter syndrome peeking through, but I was like, "Just making sure I'm doing okay!" Not looking for validation, just making sure that I was making people happy.
NOW: Do you have any favorite behind-the-scenes moments with your Look Both Ways co-stars?
We had such a great time in Austin. We really did. We tried to go out on the weekends. I rented a boat one weekend — I think it was a pontoon — and we went out on the lake. David [Corenswet] cooked some hotdogs for us. It was just a nice day out on the water, and that was so fun. I'm not a club kind of girl, but we would go dancing and stay out until 6 a.m. just having fun. To have such a fun life while shooting with your cast-mates outside of the actual work, was one of the best experiences of the whole thing.
THEN: In Hustlers, you worked with Jennifer Lopez and Keke Palmer, who’ve been in this business for their entire lives — what was it like watching their acting processes?
I was intimidated being in that environment for sure. I felt very much out of my league. Sort of very much, "Am I supposed to be here? Like, how did I end up here with this group of women?" I just felt floored and honored to be there. I just tried to soak it all in. We were filming in New York, which in itself is kind of overwhelming. I had my own little Airbnb in Chelsea and was able to enjoy my days off there in New York and explore because I'd never filmed something there before. But working with the girls was just...admiring their sense of making the roles their own and taking what was on the page, but completely doing something so specific with what was there. Constance [Wu], and J.Lo, and Keke — those were the girls I worked with most — just taking a role above and beyond what was on the page was super inspiring. And Keke is, I think, one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. I just saw NOPE, and I want to keep supporting her. I think she's so wonderful. She's truly one of the funniest people I've ever met. I would love to work with her again.
BuzzFeed: Yeah, I was gonna say, are there any plans to work together in the future?
Nothing on the horizon to work together again yet. I do hope, like very much hope, in the future. We check up on each other on Instagram every now and then.
NOW: And finally, do you have any words of advice you’d give to young actors looking to break out in the industry?
That's always such a hard thing because this industry is so much about luck. It's so much about being at the right place at the right time. It's about perseverance and ambition. And I feel like, so many people move to LA with this dream of being an actor, and maybe don't realize how hard it is to actually make it. It took me seven years of actively auditioning in order to book Riverdale, which was what I consider my big break. I had the purest passion for it; it was what kept me going. So, I think if your passion is there, and you're not second-guessing that this is what you want to do, then obviously, keep pursuing it. I think there comes a point where you can be at a crossroads — in any career — if something's not working out, you kind of question, "Okay, am I following the right path?" But I think if your ambition and your passion are there, then it's always something that you should try to keep pursuing. Passion really goes a long way.