Camila Mendes Talks The New Romantic, Dating In 2018 & How She Really Feels About Those K.J. Apa Rumors
Chances are you may know Camila Mendes from The CW's Riverdale, where she plays the pearl-adoring, occasionally name-dropping speakeasy founder Veronica Lodge. Now, she's introducing the world to an entirely new extraordinary woman, one who is as ambitious as the Manhattanite-turned-River Vixen, albeit in a different way. Meet The New Romantic's Morgan, a proud sugar baby with a love of faux fur coats and distaste for those judging her lifestyle choices.
She's not Veronica, sure — but man, is she fun.
The New Romantic, which hits theaters November 9, is an exploration of today's dating culture. In a world where apps now provide a plethora of potential suitors to pick from, the dating landscape looks far different than it did even five years ago — but has it killed romance entirely? Aspiring journalist Blake (played by The End of the F------ World's Jessica Barden, sporting an American accent) thinks it has, which is partially why, when Morgan suggests she get into an "arrangement" with a much-older college professor, Blake dives in. For journalism, you know?
As for Mendes, she has a lot to navigate, too. The actress not only plays a young woman with a complicated love life (her boyfriend Archie, played by K.J. Apa, is currently incarcerated), but she also has to deal with unwanted input about her real romantic life on social media.
Fortunately, Mendes takes it all in stride. In conversation with Refinery29, the actress talks dating apps, clapping back (or not) at fans, and modern romance.
Refinery29: What do you think The New Romantic has to say about modern romance?
Camila Mendes: “I think everyone today is grappling with this new kind of dating. It’s not like we can take advice from our parents. There’s this whole new method of communication. Even though millennials are so used to this form of communication, there is a surprising difficulty in dating someone you meet through an app. It’s more complicated than it’s ever been, especially when you can see all of your options on your phone, and swipe through. That’s what romance has come down to."
"I don’t think necessarily that this movie is trying to portray that in a negative way. I don’t think this movie portrays any type of romance in a negative light. If there’s any take away from this film, it’s that everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own way of meeting people and finding love, and there shouldn’t be any shame associated with how you meet people or how you fall in love — or if you decide you want to be a sugar baby. There shouldn’t be any shame in that. How we choose to live our lives is totally up to us, especially with something as subjective and personal as romance. What gives someone the right to judge how someone else wants to approach their own dating life?"
What made you want to play Morgan?
“Morgan, to me, is shamelessly herself, very confident in who she is and what she wants. That’s what attracted me most to her character. She’s the catalyst for Blake. She inspires Blake to question what Blake wants and takes her out of her comfort zone. Blake is living her life according to this idea of romance. I think we should all have the freedom… to explore our sexualities, and our ways of loving. If people were more liberated, if they liberated themselves, than people would be happier.”
In the past, you’ve taken to social media to clear up rumors and falsehoods about your personal life. What’s your approach to responding to stuff like this on social media?
“I don’t always like to respond. Sometimes I’m think, ‘This is probably a 12-year-old.’ You don’t know who is on the other side of that phone, typing these things. I wasn’t the most mature person when I was 12. You can’t hold your fans to this [impossible] standard — you don’t know their life.
“[But,] every once in awhile, [I do respond,] when it feels really important to me in the moment… We have access to [social media] now. Back in the days of Marilyn Monroe, when she was [the topic of gossip], I wonder what it would have been like if she had [direct access] to her fans. Now you can defend yourself and say the truth: If anyone tweets a rumor about you, you can quote the tweet and say ‘Hey, that’s not true,’ and that’s it. There’s such a power in that. Some people choose to ignore that, or not give attention [to social media], and that’s fair too, because sometimes it’s not worth it."
Do you think that social media helps you connect to fans?
"[Personally,] I think we should take advantage of this new ‘celebrity lifestyle.’ It’s different being famous these days. There is this accessibility, and relatability. Sometimes I think it makes things better on our end, when you do open up to people and show them that you’re human. It makes my life appear less glamorous, which I like. I don’t want want people to think my life is more than it is."
Your co-star Lili Reinhart was critical of fans “shipping” her in real life, the way people do with the fictional characters on Riverdale. What are your thoughts on that, when it happens to you?
“I think it’s funny that these people, who don’t know me, [care about my love life.] [Sometimes] the people who ship Veronica and Archie ship me and K.J. too. It’s funny the amount of people who got upset when it was announced that I wasn’t dating K.J. You don’t know K.J. personally! If we were supposed to, we would be in love right now. If we were supposed to date, we would be dating. But we’re not, for a reason. We’re actors, on a show. Yeah, we have chemistry — we’re friends, we get along! — but that doesn’t mean we should date. It’s one thing to ship the characters, which I never care about, like ‘Varchie’ or ‘Barchie.’ It fascinates me that people ship real people together, because you just don’t know.”
“But those people [who are shipping me and K.J.] are, honestly, usually young. The internet gives you this idea that everyone is talking about this one thing, but often, these people are basically children. I did so many things when I was a 13-year-old. I was mean when I was 13! I went through a Blair Waldorf phase. I was a bitch! When I look back on that time in my life, and I think that these kids are going through that same time, I can’t [really judge that much].”
The New Romantic hits theaters Friday, November 9.