Riverdale star Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge on the CW series, revealed in a new interview that she was drugged and sexually assaulted while in college. It was the first time Mendes, 25, opened up about the traumatic experience. She said the experience led her to get the phrase "to build a home" tattooed above her rib cage.
Mendes told Women's Health the incident happened during her first year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
“I got the tattoo after my freshman year," Mendes told the magazine through tears. “I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me.”
According to the magazine, the tattoo helps Mendes remember to "strengthen both her sense of self and the environment around her."
After the incident, Mendes said she decided everything in her life would make her feel safe and comfortable.
"Whenever I feel like I’m going through something difficult, I think about what I can do physically for myself," she said. "I danced for seven years, from age 4 to 11. Then I did musicals as a kid, then so much of acting school is movement classes and connecting your breath to your body... Activity has always been an important part of my life.”
Before Mendes was cast in Riverdale, she had a difficult childhood and yearned for a more stable lifestyle. She moved 12 times before she turned 18, thanks to her parents' divorce and her father's career. Mendes called the constant moving "traumatic" during her childhood.
"You’re constantly saying goodbye to people, and you’re constantly being removed from your identity," she explained. "When you start to feel like you’re connecting with a group of people, an environment, and a home — a physical home — it can be destabilizing when you’re uprooted and taken somewhere else."
Spending 10 months of the year filming Riverdale in Vancouver helps her find some consistency. She often trains in her building and likes doing solo workouts after filming. She also tries to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
“People sometimes put working out first and don’t give their bodies rest,” she told Women's Health. “I’ll always choose sleep first. I think it’s just so underrated.”
Mendes said she has also "only recently gotten better" after struggling with bulimia, and got help from a therapist and nutritionist.
“When I was a teenager, there were no role models when it came to body positivity—that simply was not a thing. Being thin was the thing,” Mendes explained. “It’s health that’s important, not appearance. I make choices that are good for me — and not just in my body — but for my soul, for my mind. And sometimes that’s eating ice cream because I want to eat ice cream.”
Mendes is not the only Riverdale star to open up about a sexual assault. In October 2018, Lili Reinhart, who plays Betty Cooper, said a "significantly older" male co-worker "tried to force himself on me" when they went on a date.0comments
Riverdale Season 4 kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: Aaron Richter/Contour by Getty Images for Pizza Hut
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