Lili Reinhart first came to prominence on The CW’s dark, almost noir-ish take on the Archie comics when she was cast as major character Betty Cooper. With her innocent, clear-eyed beauty, she was the perfect physical embodiment of the role. Very quickly she established herself as a talented actor by bringing unexpected depth and pathos to the character of Betty. It’s unsurprising that Hollywood has sat up and taken notice, with roles in the crime drama “Hustlers” (2019) and a producing and starring role in “Chemical Hearts” (2020) quickly following.
But what remains one of Reinhart’s strongest qualities is her willingness to speak up and engage with her fans — a not inconsiderable army comprising over 24 million Instagram and 3.2 million Twitter followers.
Reinhart, who grew up in Ohio, started by doing theatre in her hometown. This slowly evolved into answering open casting calls. According to Reinhart, her luck changed when her mother began driving her to New York City for bigger auditions. “I didn’t come from a family that had any knowledge or idea of how the industry works or where to begin. We were sort of on our own — turning to the Internet to answer our questions about how I could possibly make my dream come true,” says Reinhart in an email interview.
Left: Givenchy coat and belt. Max Mara shoes. Right: Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and necklace.
The path to fulfilling her acting dream was not an easy one. “I did hundreds of self-tapes from when I was 13 to 19 years old, and I faced a lot of rejection,” says Reinhart. She credits her parents and their constant support as the way she got through that stage. “My parents are the best. They have always been supportive of me, and honestly I’m not even sure why they had so much faith in me as a performer from such a young age.”
Although she asserts that they were not stage parents by any means, they recognised how naturally acting came to the young Reinhart and were impressed by her drive. She recalls how her father passed her his frequent flier miles so she could fly to LA for important auditions. “I would feel guilty when I didn’t end up booking anything because of how helpful they were to me. I grew to learn that obviously I wasn’t disappointing them when I didn’t book something, they were impressed and supportive of my journey even when it wasn’t breeding success,” she says.
“Riverdale” changed both Reinhart’s life and her career when she got the role just shy of her 20th birthday. The show (now about to film its fifth season) was a hit and Reinhart’s popularity soared with the fanbase.
Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and necklace.
After a taste of acting in films like “Miss Stevens” (2016) and “Galveston” (2018), Reinhart is moving on to producing with her first credit as an executive producer on Amazon’s “Chemical Hearts.” “Chemical Hearts was a beautiful story about young love and the pain that comes along with being a teenager — a pain that is very familiar to me. It felt like it was a story that needed to be told — one that didn’t sugar-coat things, one that didn’t have a happy ending. It felt like a more accurate portrayal of young love and heartache than other films I’ve been exposed to, and that was what really drew me in,” she says.
The experience was a good one for her. “I enjoyed producing so much, I definitely want to continue. I am open to telling any stories that have an emotional impact on me. Whether I’m acting in them or just a producer, I like to be involved in films and television shows that have something to say that hasn’t already been said... stories with a new point of view,” she says. While Reinhart acknowledges the industry’s tendency to remake and reboot shows and films rather than finding something original, discovering art that feels fresh has a certain appeal. “I appreciate a beautifully written story that makes me feel like I’m discovering something new. I also think it’s crucial to tell stories that are diverse and accurately portray the way our world looks right now, and not succumb to whitewashing,” she says.
I keep a lot of things private and am not an open book in all aspects of my life, but I try to be honest about things that I feel need to be talked about.
In an interview on the set of T Singapore’s September issue cover shoot in Malibu, the “Riverdale” actress Lili Reinhart talks about trying to live life unfiltered, not taking herself too seriously and her budding relationship with fashion.
Reinhart has expressed a desire to do more film work in the future, teasing that the looks she wore for the T Singapore photo shoot made her hanker after a role in a period drama. When asked which filmmakers she would like to work with, she says, “I am drawn to filmmakers who have a very specific style and vision: Guillermo Del Toro, Yorgos Lanthimos, Baz Luhrmann and Lorene Scafaria, who I was lucky enough to work with in ‘Hustlers.’”
Besides the release of “Chemical Hearts” in August, Reinhart has also written a book of poetry called “Swimming Lessons” that will be published later this month. Despite the confidence and verve that she projects, the idea of releasing her poetry — some of which is very personal — is still daunting. “It wasn’t too difficult to decide to publish a book, but now that it’s close to coming out, I find it nervewracking. It’s a bit like opening up your journal and letting the world take a peek,” she says.
Still, Reinhart wants those who will read her book to know that while “Swimming Lessons” is deeply personal, they were not just based on her own experiences. “I don’t want people to dig too deeply into my poems to find secret information about my life or relationships — they won’t find anything that I haven’t already disclosed to the public. People feel the need to comment on everything in my life anyway so that didn’t make me shy away from publishing. It comes with the territory of being in the public eye, and it’s unfortunate, but doesn’t stop me from pursuing different forms of artistry,” she says.
Left: Stefania shirt. Salvatore Ferragamo jumpsuit. Chanel boots. Sophie Buhai necklace. Right: Chanel dress, belt and boots, Sophie Buhai headband.
On the topic of not shying away from public scrutiny, Reinhart, who recently came out as bisexual on social media, has been praised for her refreshing candour. “I don’t think it was necessarily a conscious decision. I have always been very open in general to people in my life about my mental health, body image and sexuality. I keep a lot of things private and am not an open book in all aspects of my life, but I try to be honest about things that I feel need to be talked about,” she said. Her decision to “come out” so to speak was purely an act of solidarity. “The LGBTQ+ community always needs public support, and since I’m part of that community, I thought it might be time to come out as bisexual. It was sort of a nonchalant decision and I didn’t expect the response that I got, but it was a good response.”
Reinhart has also used her platform, particularly on mediums like Instagram Live, to give a voice to other young activists. “I am always prepared to fight for the rights of other human beings. Black Lives Matter has been a strong movement, especially in the U.S., these last few months and I have been trying to contribute to that movement in a positive way.
“It’s also important for me to make sure the films that I produce and work on in the future are racially-diverse and don’t include stereotypes that are harmful and add to a racist culture that already exists in film,” she says. Reinhart also asserts that she will always fight for gay and trans rights while encouraging the people around her to do the same.
Left: Celine by Hedi Slimane coat. Busted bra. Y/Project trousers. Max Mara shoes. Sophie Buhai earrings. Right: Louis Vuitton dress.
In the post-pandemic world, with filming on hiatus for a lot of film and television projects, Reinhart has had a breather from a hectic work schedule. “I’ve talked to my therapist weekly and read self-help books... spent time with people who love, appreciate and validate my emotions. It’s also been nice to rest and let my body recoup after a gruelling working schedule.”
Like many of us, Reinhart is still grappling with what the new world order will bring, but has found this challenging time to be useful for her growth. “It’s been hard to stay sane during this time. I’ve gone through many, many emotions throughout this pandemic. But overall I’ve grown a lot, actually, and am very grateful to have had this time to myself. The last few years of my life have been chaotic. And so to have had a few months to process my radically changing world and emotions has been vital to my mental sanity,” she says.
Lili Reinhart fronts T’s “Women’s Fashion” September 2020 issue in a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello dress and necklace.
Photographs by Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Creative direction by Jack Wang
Styled by Julia Ehrlich
Hair by Bryce Scarlett (The Wall Group)
Makeup by Jenna Kristina (The Wall Group)
Producer: Anna Rybus (Prospero Production), Ryan Beck (Oui Productions)
Production assistant: Cameron Strand
Covid-19 monitor: Cheyenne Sommo
Photographer’s assistant: Derec Patrick
Stylist’s assistant: Antonina Getmanova
Directed by Kasey Stewart
Director of Photography: Max Hirsh
On location at T Singapore’s September cover shoot, the actor Lili Reinhart’s clear-eyed beauty and multifaceted charm against the rolling hills of Malibu.
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