Dialogue with one's body and mental health must be managed: Lili Reinhart is a model for Gen Z who followed her in Riverdale. And with the conquest of the Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award her breakthrough as an actress begins
Lili Reinhart crouches on the leather couch, tilts her head to the side, and tells me she can’t keep her mouth shut. «I wouldn’t want to expose myself all the time either, but someone has to do it, right?», he asks. The last time she couldn’t keep quiet dates back to last May, when she took it out – without ever naming it – at Kim Kardashian and the “toxic diet culture”: the occasion was Kim’s remarkable and rapid weight loss , determined at all costs to fit into a famous Marilyn Monroe dress to show off at the Met Gala. The accusation: bragging about having lost all those kilos in a short time is harmful. Of her twenty-six years, Lili spent her last years playing Betty Cooper, the good girl next door protagonist of Riverdale, the Gen Z TV series par excellence, but also raising awareness among her audience about mental health and body positivity. With rare sincerity, she spoke of suffering from anxiety and depression, and of the difficulties in accepting her body.
Lili was in Milan to attend the Max Mara spring-summer fashion show, which on October 27 will present her with the 2022 Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award, the award given every year to an actress who is at a turning point in his career. The watershed moment for her will be her farewell to Riverdale, of which filming of the final season is taking place. Lili Reinhart is Betty Cooper: a character so loved by very young people and difficult to make them forget..
What effect does winning the Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future award have on you?
«When I found out I felt flattered and honored to be considered an influential person. At that moment I thought I had won it for my work on mental health and body acceptance. Then a friend pointed out the obvious: I get it as an actress. It was interesting, a confirmation of what I do. I still can’t take myself entirely seriously».
«Maybe because I would like to keep my feet on the ground, or because I haven’t received much recognition yet or maybe it’s just impostor syndrome. I certainly feel that I haven’t shown my best self yet as an actress».
What would you like to do?
«I have founded a production company with which I am developing very ambitious projects which also include fantastic roles for me. When I start playing more challenging characters I will feel more confident».
What is life like as an idol for very young people?
«Oh God, idol is a strong word, perhaps better to say model. It’s both an honor and a curse, especially when what I say is taken out of context and used for clickbait. In any case it is a privilege to have a voice that will be heard and I think that if you have this possibility you must use it to say things, send messages. In my own small way I always try to bring my authentic self into interviews and books and everything I do».
In fact, you often talks about mental health and your problems with anxiety and depression. How did you overcome them?
«I didn’t pass them. It’s an important point, which is why I keep talking about it. For me, there is no solution».
Will there never be?
«Maybe someone has found it, but in my case there is no definitive cure for depression, which is caused by the malfunctioning of a part of the brain. I have found some ways to alleviate it and reduce anxiety: keeping a diary, attending spiritual retreats, spending time with friends. It’s a problem I can handle».
You have the word “divine” tattooed on your arm. Why?
«Two years ago, after the end of a relationship, I began a spiritual journey that led me to study reiki in depth, I will soon become a teacher. I just returned from a retreat with two friends in Northern California. Spirituality today is an important part of my life».
Is there a link between mental health and your work?
«There may be. My job is hyper-stressful at times. And there is the question of self-image. Even though I started suffering from body dysmorphia before I started being an actress: I was 13 years old and I was obsessed with acne. Then the skin fell into place».
You work with your image.
«It happens that I fixate on certain parts of my body, I obsessively compare myself to others, and so it is difficult to do photo shoots, fittings for films. Putting yourself in front of the camera amplifies everything. You are constantly photographed and filmed and there is a canon of beauty to conform to: a single size, a certain face. Take Gossip Girl: the actors all look alike. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not representative of reality».
But there are improvements, don’t you think?
«Yes, for a couple of years the industry has been trying to be more inclusive and diversity has become an important value».
But when it comes to choosing the leading actress…
«Nothing has changed! We are still afraid of taking risks, of changing the order of things».
Yuu also denounced the “toxic culture of diets”. Don’t your colleagues expose themselves?
«Never. It’s disappointing to find myself being the only one talking about these issues. Colleagues avoid to avoid putting themselves at the center of attention. But I wouldn’t want to do that either. You find yourself with a million people tweeting insults and insults at you and telling you to shut up. But you know what? If a woman says she’s going on a diet to fit into a dress she’s actually sending a message. These statements and the complicit silence of others contribute to a toxic way of judging the body. I would like to be a positive role model».
You have been playing a young girl, Betty Cooper, for several years. What do you have in common?
«I love Betty. Like me, he fights for his loved ones and his ideals. I brought my sense of humor to her».
How do you get rid of such a famous character?
«Some will always see me as Betty Cooper, just as Kristen Stewart is still Bella Swan to some. When you’re part of a very commercial series, breaking away takes time and talent. Today I feel lucky because I can arrive prepared, but it will be a difficult farewell».
Who would you like to work with at the cinema?
«With Yorgos Lanthimos: I love his films, I loved The Favorite (from 2018, ed.). Among the Italians, Luca Guadagnino: it would be a dream to be directed by him».
Speaking of Guadagnino, in 2016 you worked with your fetish actor, Timothée Chalamet, before he became a celebrity, in the film Miss Stevens. Are you still friends?
«Yes, we meet often and it’s great to see each other. I remember watching him act and telling him: you will win an Oscar. It was obvious. He is extremely talented and has a unique ability to express the vulnerability of young men. We met when we were very young and starting out, so when we meet today it’s all: “Oh, do you remember?”. It’s very helpful for us to keep our feet on the ground: we both know what we were like when things were more difficult».