What do Martin Scorsese, Lady Gaga and Alec Baldwin have in common?
They all graduated from New York University‘s (NYU) prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.
Now, there is one more to add to the list – TV’s new bad girl in town, Riverdale’s Camila Mendes.
Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge in the edgy, millennial update of the Archie Comics, graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Tisch School last year, in addition to spending two semesters at the Stonestreet Film Acting Conservatory.
In her first ever Hollywood role, the Miami native is putting what she learned to practice through her positively-received portrayal of the Blair Waldorf-like, rich New York princess whose billionaire father has just been jailed for fraud.
From the world of @ArchieComics, @CamilaMendes is Veronica on #Riverdale. Watch now on The CW App: https://t.co/xxqagbq188 pic.twitter.com/fasP9bVyVn
— Riverdale (@CW_Riverdale) February 11, 2017
When Mendes began auditioning for Riverdale in late 2015, she was still in school – a balance which she told Buzzfeed was not easy.
“Some teachers would be really cool about it, and some teachers would be really annoying about it,” Mendes said. “And it’s like, well, don’t you want your students to be successful?”
Mendes really wanted the role. Speaking to Covetur, she said she was told she was the last person given an opportunity to audition on the very last day, and she wasn’t told right away if she got the part, which led to a long winter break agonising over the results. She knew getting this part would take her career to a new level.
And it has. Riverdale is now said to be one of the hottest TV shows around, drawing a respectable amount of praise from the critics as well. New York Times’ James Poniewozik lauded the “… terrific art direction” that “warps the bubble-gum iconography into something haunting and lurid”.
As for Mendes, MTV had this to say about her: “Make no mistake: Archie may be hot now, but it’s Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge who run this show, literally and figuratively.”
camila mendes went to the TISCH SCHOOL do you know how hard that is? my gorl is SMART.
— autumn (@gretaswig) February 5, 2017
Camila Mendes: American actress (Brazilian-descent). Fluent in Portuguese. Graduated from TISCH I am SHOOk pic.twitter.com/ZV3sEEG37c
— m (@TlNYFANY) February 15, 2017
Mendes’ possession of both acting skills and famed degree from the Tisch School is a hopeful omen for a future where the film industry is taking on actresses more for their merits than for just being pretty faces.
It is not easy to get into the Tisch School – their admission is as highly selective as their training is rigorous. What started off in 1965 as a conservatory training centre for theater and film is now one of the leading arts schools in the country, with established departments of dance, theater design and lighting, and cinema studies within a few short years.
Judging by social media users’ online thoughts lauding her academic background, there seems to be an appreciation for the demanding training Mendes went through. Does this signal continuing demand from the audience for more actresses with the grey matter to match their camera-ready features? In this case, one is able to say, at the very least, it is a small step in the correct direction.
And Mendes, now hailed as the “new the queen of TV” is not the only college graduate on the Riverdale set. Jughead Jones, played by former Disney Channel star Cole Sprouse, is another NYU alum while Casey Cott (who is Kevin Keller in the series) is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
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