The untold truth of Lili Reinhart

She stole our hearts as Betty Cooper, Riverdale's resident Nancy Drew in training, but there's more to Lili Reinhart than mystery-solving, cute ponytails, and fuzzy pink sweaters. The veteran actress has actually been performing since she was 10 years old, gradually making her way up the ranks while battling various setbacks, along with her well-publicized struggles with depression and anxiety, before exploding onto our screens in the CW's hottest teen soap since Gossip Girl.

The Ohio native is quick to fight back against online trolls eager to pigeonhole Reinhart as her most famous character. She isn't afraid to speak her mind, even if it means alienating those who claim to worship her. As far as the young actress is concerned, she only just started showing off a tiny bit of what she can do. Lili Reinhart may be an open book, but she certainly has a lot more of her story to tell. 

Don't call her Betty

As befitting someone who was thrust into the spotlight without warning, Reinhart is still getting used to her newfound fame. She explained to W magazine that although fans might be eager to speak to "Betty Cooper" they should be reticent of the fact she isn't actually her in real life. "I am not Betty Cooper. I'm always going to try to be as happy and grateful to fans, but I'm also just trying to live my life. I don't have an on switch all of the time," she said.

Likewise, the Riverdale star told Glamour she's least like her character, "In that Betty is the person who is friends with everyone. I'm the kind of person if I don't like you, unfortunately you know that. Everything I'm thinking in my head goes onto my face, so you can see right through me." However, Reinhart was quick to point out she isn't totally unlike Betty either. "I do have a lot of love to give. She cares so much about her family and friends, and that's how I am. Even though I may be a little harsh and blunt, I'm still loving!" she explained.  

She's more like Dark Betty in real life

The instantly iconic "Dark Betty" may have been banished from Riverdale for good but, in reality, Reinhart feels more of a kinship with her character's raven-haired alter ego than her pony-tailed public face. She told InStyle that Betty had finally confronted her darker side by defeating the Black Hood at the end of Season 2, but that doesn't mean the actress herself is all sweetness and light. 

"I like darker things," she admitted. "I enjoy watching thrillers and horror movies and dramas. I don't immediately gravitate towards comedies or lighter, happy romance movies — that's just not what really entertains me. I find that you can completely immerse yourself in a thriller movie a lot; I can immerse myself in a movie like that, just for whatever reason. So I really like to be a part of that kind of stuff." It was this attraction that led Reinhart to appear in crime thriller Galveston alongside Ben Foster, her first big post-Riverdale movie role.

The struggle is REALLY real when it comes to specific type of body dysmorphia

Most young starlets like to give the impression they're living the most impossibly perfect, glamorous lives imaginable. And in a place like Riverdale, where even the grungy Jughead boasts flawless skin, the pressure to look great both on and off-screen must be daunting. Refreshingly, Reinhart refuses to pretend everything is great all the time. She's been open about her ongoing struggle with body dysmorphia, admitting to Glamour how she grapples to see herself in the public eye and not freak out. 

The actress admitted to crying on the phone to her mother about how ugly she felt, explaining, "I have a specific type of body dysmorphia that stems from acne. I see any acne on my face as an obsessive thing. [It's] the only thing I can think about, and it makes me want to hide." Reinhart wishes there was a wider spectrum of what's considered beautiful, opining, "If people could just open their eyes a little bit and see there's a wider range of beauty, there'd be so much more happiness."

Seeking help as a form of strength

In keeping with her no-nonsense approach to self care, Reinhart is happy to discuss her ongoing reliance on therapy and medication to keep both her head and heart in check. "Some people think that seeing a therapist is admitting weakness; it's such an old-fashioned way of looking at things. It makes me feel stronger to be able to say I was able to seek help when I knew that I needed it and not just suffer in silence," she told Glamour

The actress also revealed that admitting she needed help was the best decision she'd ever made. "Honestly, therapy was a life saver. The same with medication. I did what I had to do, and I don't think it's weak. Saying that you're sad or you're hurt is not saying that you're less than or that you're admitting weakness. It's the opposite. I wouldn't be able to be here without therapy and without my medication that helps me," Reinhart explained.

She's an open book... to a point

Although she's willing to discuss her ongoing mental health issues with fans and press alike, Reinhart is cautious not to overshare. She will talk about almost anything, but the actress is careful not to divulge too much about her relationship with co-star Cole Sprouse, telling Harpers Bazaar, "I'm not okay talking about my relationship. I'm not going to tell you my love story. That's just not appropriate right now." 

The Riverdale star reiterated those concerns to Who What Wear, noting, "I'm so protective over it. It's not something the world needs to know about, because if you give them anything, they are just going to want more. I'm not going to hide away from my relationship or hide away from what's going on in my life, but what does happen in my relationship is so private, and I cherish it a lot. He does as well. A relationship is a very intimate thing, and I want it to be between me and him, not me, him, and the world." 

She's not just somebody's girlfriend

Her reticence to let fans in on the all-important real life Bughead experience (for the uninitiated, Betty + Jughead = Bughead) might seem unfairly harsh to some, but Reinhart has good reason for keeping her relationship private — aside from her own personal preferences. As she told Vogue, at least one publication has used her boyfriend in the headline of a news story… about her. 

"There is still a problem here if you feel the need to say a man's name, or someone who is more famous that is connected to me, in order to get someone to read an article about me… I'm not a boring person. I don't need someone else's name on a headline to make me sound more interesting," the actress argued. She does feel things are changing, however, noting, "I feel inspired by all the recognition women in Hollywood are getting. I think it is well earned, and about time."

The big break took a long while

Riverdale was obviously Reinhart's breakout role, but the actress is upfront about how long it took her to really "make it" in the business. As she explained to V Magazine, Reinhart has been working since she was a kid, when the actress first started booking roles in plays around her hometown.

"I was like, well, this is something I wanna do. I was always a performer kid, like annoyingly so. I would put on shows for my family and direct my friends in little plays, and my little sister, I'd make up dances with her. But when I was 12, that was when I started taking it seriously, and my mom, for some reason, believed in me and helped me find an agent," she advised.

Reinhart's parents supported her 100 percent, even driving her eight hours to New York for auditions. But it's been an uphill battle, and the Riverdale star holds no illusions about that fact. "It definitely didn't happen overnight. They kind of make it seem like, "And just like that, she got her big break." I've been working at this since I was 12, so it's been a journey," she said.

She almost quit

Given how hard she hustled to get started in the business, it's unsurprising to learn Reinhart considered quitting completely at one stage. As she told Teen Vogue, the actress moved to Los Angeles at 18, but the five-month stint made her so ill and depressed that she went home and took a further six months out to build her strength back up to give it another shot.  

"I told myself I was going to go back to L.A. and try again. After a year, if nothing happened, I was going to go to makeup school because that seemed like the only other thing I was passionate about,"  she admitted. For someone who previously dropped out of school because, by her own admission, Reinhart's anxiety wouldn't let her do anything but follow her passion, it was a major turning point. Thankfully, unbeknownst to the fledgling actress, her big break was just around the corner.  

Riverdale initially said no

For Riverdale fans, it's nigh-on impossible to imagine anybody inhabiting the role of Betty Cooper the way Reinhart does. And yet, the hit CW show actually turned her down when the actress first tried out for the part. As Reinhart explained to W magazine, she submitted her first self-made audition tape during that same difficult transition period in her life. "I spent three hours on my first audition tape, and I felt like I could not get it right. I sent it in, and wasn't the girl. It doesn't surprise me, because I was in a sh*t place when I taped that," she admitted.

She didn't give up, trying again upon returning to L.A. "I auditioned in person with a fresh take, and a fire under my ass that I hadn't had before. I felt so close, and I had been so close to so many things before, that I didn't want to let this one slip through," she said. Later that same day, Reinhart received the call letting her know she got it, noting, "My friend was standing across from me, and when I put the phone down he said, 'I literally just watched your life change.'"

Coming out of her shell

For someone who self-identifies as an introvert, the massive life change kick-started by her Riverdale casting was quite difficult for Reinhart to cope with, at least at first. Although their cast is incredibly close, all living around the same area in Vancouver where they shoot the show, the actress admitted to feeling uncomfortable initially. "I was very introverted when we met and I didn't like to go out — I was kind of a home body. I still am, but I've definitely grown outside that a lot," she admitted to Marie Claire.  

Reinhart credited her Riverdale co-stars with bringing her out of her shell, but acknowledged the level of fame she's attained via the hit show is still sometimes a lot to handle. "It's hard being an introvert and being famous. It is still weird when I have to go to a Comic Con and promote the show or when I do conventions where I go and meet fans — if you would have told me five years ago that I would have to speak in front of a couple of hundred people, I would have said no way," she admitted.

She DGAF if you hate her

Although Reinhart admits to being uncomfortable with the level of attention she receives, the young actress isn't afraid to speak her mind. She memorably took to Instagram Stories after rumors circulated she was pregnant, admitting to ET that, "I feel like a lot of people say you should just sweep it under the rug, don't pay attention to it, but that's never really been my style. Maybe some people find that obnoxious, but I felt the need to say, 'No. I'm not pregnant.' … It's kind of sad that people felt the need to make my weight a topic of conversation." 

The Riverdale star also told Vogue that she has no time for haters. "If you hate me so much, don't f***ing talk about me. I don't have any sympathy for people who go online and attack people for no other reason than to get attention, or to start an army of hate against a celebrity. You need to find something better to do with your time," she stated. 

She loves Betty just as much as we do

Although Reinhart is quick to list the differences between herself and the character she portrays onscreen, the actress is just as much of a Betty fan as the rest of us. As she explained to Variety, her Betty is a very modern incarnation, as opposed to the Archie-obsessed pushover frequently presented in the super-popular comics on which the show is based. "She's modern in the sense that her whole life doesn't revolve around Archie, as it did in the comics. She's quite independent and handles things on her own. She's strong, and she's fiery. Which I like," Reinhart noted. 

Likewise, when asked why she's so proud to portray Betty Cooper, Reinhart told Glamour, "She's a passionate, strong woman who loves her family and friends, but she is also battling her demons, which I think is beautiful to watch." If the actress had her way, Betty would seek professional help in battling those issues on the show, in order to further push her own personal agenda encouraging viewers to ask for help when they need.

She keeps this junk food on set

The mysteries of the Riverdale set remain mostly unknown, save for what the cast chooses to share with hungry fans on social media. In a lively little behind-the-scenes interview with Marie Claire, however, Reinhart gave us a juicy glimpse at her life in Riverdale. First and foremost, it takes a whopping 35-40 minutes to get her ponytail right each day — which is, let's face it, completely insane. 

Aside from her high maintenance hair, Reinhart is relatively relaxed on set, reportedly showing up in sweatpants each day. She also appears to have a major sweet tooth, as the actress admitted to drinking Coke at 6:30 a.m. to wake herself up, since she doesn't do coffee. Likewise, she has hidden treats stashed for those long hours as, "Pillsbury graciously sent me some cookie dough. …It's kept in the production office fridge at our studios so I don't have five rolls of cookie dough tempting me at home." 

Hunting for great stories

Riverdale is her focus right now, understandably, but Reinhart isn't resting on her laurels. At the same time, the actress isn't under so much pressure to find work that she'll take any role that comes her way. As Reinhart explained to Who What Wear, "I want to look back on the things I've done and say I'm proud of this, I'm glad I did this, and not Oh, I did that to just to fill time."

The young actress is smart about her choices. "I was always very picky about my scripts. I just look for great stories. It has to be a compelling story with compelling characters, and that's a high bar. But again, I only want to do the best. Maybe that's cocky of me to say, but I don't care. I would rather not work than work on something that I feel isn't… pushing the needle for me. And that's why I'm like, I'm 21, I've got time, it's okay. There is a lot more to me, and I'm just quietly sitting in the corner for those opportunities to come," she explained.

We ain't seen nothing yet

As befits a young woman who isn't afraid to be picky about the kind of jobs she takes, Reinhart is adamant that Betty Cooper is only a tiny part of her repertoire. As she told Teen Vogue, even though her level of fame means roles are being offered without the actress even needing to audition for them, Reinhart isn't willing to just accept her standing.

She still feels the desire to prove herself. "It's weird to get direct offers now, rather than having to audition. But it also makes me feel kind of suspicious, like, 'Why don't you want me to audition?' I still feel like I need to prove myself, very much so. You've seen me do Riverdale, but that's basically all anyone's ever seen," she argued. 

The process might suck, by her own admission, but Reinhart is prepared to go through it each time just to show what she can really do, noting, "I want to show you that I can do more, rather than just get something handed to me." As the Riverdale star succinctly puts it, and it's hard to disagree with her, "You actually haven't seen what I'm capable of."