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To Madelaine Petsch, Cheryl Blossom’s Supernatural Turn on Riverdale Makes Perfect Sense

Riverdale season 6 is premiering into a new world of possibility. The show where anything can happen has inevitably connected to the otherworldly—which offered a perfect crossover opportunity with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, another TV universe born from the Archie comics. The Riverdale character channeling the most of this new power is maple syrup heiress Cheryl Blossom, who has never needed literal magic to be larger than life. This makes perfect sense to the woman who plays her: Madelaine Petsch. After all, the actress also does more than any one human being should be capable of, simultaneously taking her ELLE.com phone interview while getting her nails done.

“I have no time!” she says. This is not an overstatement; besides the full-time work of embodying Cheryl, Petsch recently starred in and produced her first indie feature, Jane, “a psychological thriller that explores social media anxiety and mental health from the perspective of a high school student.” She just wrapped the new romantic comedy About Fate opposite Emma Roberts and is still making YouTube videos for her channel of 6.83 million subscribers. One of the reasons why Petsch is so well-equipped to juggle all of this is the unequivocal support of her parents, who raised her plant-based on their idyllic-sounding farm. (“I’d wake up and my dad would be feeding deer out of a can with apples he’d grown on a tree,” she jokes.) They also enrolled her in dance classes before she could even verbalize wanting to do it.

“So by age four I was like, ‘I want to do theater’ and they supported that,” the 27-year-old says. “They championed what I wanted, they supported my career, and the moment I said I wanted to move to L.A. to be an actress, it wasn’t even a question to them and I think that’s very rare and I was very lucky and they were very supportive.”

Cheryl has always been a larger-than-life character. Riverdale itself is pretty over the top and magic was the one place it hadn’t gone. How did you feel when you heard about your season 6 arc leaning towards the supernatural?

You know what’s funny? I felt like for Cheryl it totally made sense. And a lot of the things that have happened over the course of her five years on the show made a lot of sense now. And now that we’re well into season 6, it just makes so much more sense. Because there’s really nowhere we can’t go anymore. As an actor, you want that, right? I feel like I can play anything with my character.

The show took a big risk by leaping ahead in time after so many seasons. How does it feel to be playing someone closer to your real age? Does it feel more in touch with who you are now?

Not at all. First of all, I will ride that ship as long as I can. As long as I look youthful I will continue to do that because why not milk it? Enjoy it. I only take roles that feel authentic to me, so there’s nothing that feels inauthentic about playing a high school student, and I played one up until two years ago. I think it’s about how I get into the character’s bones; not how old they are. It’s their occupation, if that makes sense.

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