Riverdale breakout Camila Mendes hasn’t been in Hollywood for long, but she has already experienced the racial issues that plague the casting world. In an interview with People Chica, the 23-year-old took issue with how some in the business treat her perceived race, especially when it comes to casting.
“I often hear things like, ‘You don’t look Latina enough,’ and that mentality is so backwards,” the Brazilian actress explains. “The fact is: I am Latina, so how are you going to tell me that I don’t look Latina?”
Mendes, who speaks fluent Portuguese, says she identifies as an “American Latina.” In the interview, she explains what that means to her and how she is influenced by both parts of her heritage.
“I have so much appreciation for how those two cultures have created who I am. I’m a full-blooded Brazilian, with an entire extended family of Brazilians, but I was born and raised in the U.S.,” the actress says. “When I go to Brazil, I feel like an American, and in the U.S., I always notice the traits that make me Brazilian.”
Mendes’ character Veronica Lodge, also Latina, is a former mean girl from a wealthy family embroiled in financial scandal — a narrative choice she calls “refreshing” for Latin viewers.
“The Lodge family is a much-needed departure from the underprivileged, sleazy Latino drug-dealers we’re used to seeing in entertainment,” Mendes explains. “It’s rare that you see Latin families being portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated, and powerful entities.”
She joins the ranks of actors who have been told they aren’t [insert identity here] enough for a part, like Get Out star, Daniel Kaluuya, who has been called “not black enough” and “too black.”
Season 2 of Riverdale, which Mendes has promised will bring more details on Veronica’s Latin heritage, premieres Wednesday, Oct. 11 on The CW. And get ready for the cast of Riverdale to appear on EW’s Fall TV Preview issue in just a few weeks.