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Camila Mendes Opens Up About the Self-Care Tactics That Help Her Deal With Pandemic Isolation

The Riverdale star shares her wellness secrets: listening to her body, paring down, and learning to love alone time.

When Camila Mendes pops up on Zoom to chat for her Health cover story, she’s wearing a simple white tee and jeans and has barely any makeup on—and she’s absolutely glowing. Looking at her, you’d never know she’s been alone in her apartment and hasn’t gone outside since returning to work. The Riverdale star is back in Vancouver, where the show shoots, after a production hiatus. For safety, before filming starts again, the entire cast has to quarantine for two weeks.

The slower pace has been a bit of a novelty for the 26-year-old. Camila was cast as the beloved comic book character Veronica Lodge shortly after graduating from New York University. Riverdale, which airs on The CW, was an instant hit and last season brought in an average of about a million viewers each week. It’s the type of success most actors only dream of, and it means that the past several years of Camila’s life have been nonstop with filming, press obligations, award shows, and other projects.
Along with her toned-down schedule came a lot more alone time—something she says has taught her some major life lessons. “Suddenly, I was stripped of all the things that kept me busy, and I was left to think about who I was as a person and what I like to do with my time.” She admits she struggled a bit at first, but ultimately knows it has been good for her and has taught her to value her own company. Here, Camila opens up about the important self-care tactics that help her deal with isolation, the ways she nurtures her mental health, how she developed a healthier relationship with food, and more.
You’ve been filming Riverdale in Canada. Because of the pandemic, other than your cast, you must spend a lot of time alone. Have you enjoyed it?

In my day-to-day life, I’m a social butterfly. I love my friends and normally have to force myself to be alone. But in quarantine, I’ve learned how much I actually like spending time with myself. It’s been nice to realize that, and I think it’s something we all need sometimes. When this all started, I was in a place in my life that was go, go, go. I never imagined I’d have time to just sit and be by myself. It has really made me reevaluate priorities.
What sort of things have you discovered you like doing on your own?

Normally, I love going out to eat and am not doing that now, so I forced myself to learn to cook. It’s funny, my mom went to culinary school and my grandma was a caterer. I think because I was spoiled by my mom, I never really had to learn. I began with a meal-delivery service, where they send you the recipe and ingredients—it was great basic training. I’ve realized I know a bit more than I thought. I must have picked it up somehow through my mom.
You were cast in Riverdale shortly after graduating college—that’s a pretty major first job. What has that experience been like?

It’s a dream—I never expected as an actress studying theater at NYU that my first gig would be so transformative. Then, there’s the other side of it. When you have such a massive fan base, there are haters that come along with it. But that has actually been a good learning experience, too. It forces you to accept and get comfortable with the fact that not everyone is going to like you—and that’s OK. That’s a very valuable lesson to have learned early in my career.

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