how i get it done

Camila Mendes Is Taking Control of Her Career

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Alex O’Donnell

Camila Mendes has been going full-speed ahead for some time now. After graduating from NYU in 2016, Mendes booked her role on CW’s Riverdale as Veronica Lodge. Since then, her schedule has been ten grueling months of filming in Vancouver followed by two months off, before starting over again. But with the seventh and final season of the show set to air in 2023, the 28-year-old actress is taking the time to evaluate what’s next, which includes more producing and more control. 

Most recently, she starred opposite Maya Hawke in the sure-to-be-cult-classic Netflix movie Do Revenge, which is drawing comparisons to Heathers and Clueless. She was also named the creative director and partner of LOOPS beauty. Her upcoming projects include executive producing and starring in two rom-coms: Música, for Amazon, and Gulfstream Pictures’ Upgraded. In the meantime, she is busy with projects she can’t yet talk about, plus hanging out with famous friends like Maggie Rogers and Tommy Dorfman and making TikToks with her Riverdale castmates. The most important thing for Mendes moving forward? “I don’t want to be ‘for hire’ as much as I want to be a boss,” she says. Here’s how she gets it done. 

On establishing a routine within her ever-changing schedule: 
My life goes through very intense phases where I’m either working on a movie or I’m on Riverdale or I’m in L.A., so my routine is constantly changing. But when I’m on a certain project, I’ll establish a routine there. I have to make them up as I go, and as soon as I start getting into a rhythm I have to change it because that project is over or it’s on to the next thing in the next place. If I do have time in the morning to work out, that is something I really like to do — or at least stretch. This sounds so basic, but making my morning latte is how I wake up, and because I actually make it in an espresso machine, it feels like a nice way to get my brain moving. It’s therapeutic, that process, and having that one coffee in peace and quiet before the day gets too crazy.

On learning on the job:
I used to put myself in a box when I was younger, even through college: I am an actor and I should just stick to that. I was in a studio where we had to do a lot of things like direct and playwright and I was like, I don’t want to do any of these things. I just want to act and perform. That’s all I’m good at. But as I’ve worked and I’ve been in this industry for almost ten years and I’m like, Oh wait, that’s not the only thing I think I’m good at. You learn so much from being on a show like Riverdale every day for ten months out of the year. I’ve learned so much about what makes a director good, what makes a producer good, and what makes good writing. You are constantly confronting these questions every day. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and now I feel like I actually have the insight to explore other paths.

On taking control of her career:
As I reach my late 20s, I like being in positions of power and I like having a say in decisions. So far I’ve been an actor, and a lot of actors have to submit control and be led by somebody else. When I started shooting Do Revenge, our director brought me into the whole process from an early stage. So I was involved, not in decision-making, but she used me as a sounding board. And in doing that with her, even though I wasn’t producing that project in any way, shape, or form, I got an insight into what that would be like, and I thrived. I loved learning about it. I learned so much through that process and it made me realize how naturally it comes to me to do those things and how it’s so much better to be able to give your input. It’s more empowering. I feel like I’m not just a player, but I’m actually in charge of my life in some way.

On showbiz friendships: 
I’ve always liked having a big network of friends, because you learn so much from each person on their different path. The nice thing about it is Hollywood can be so lonely and isolating when you’re working a lot, so when you do have that bigger pool of friends, you end up working with them and seeing them at events and you feel comforted because it’s like, Oh, a familiar face! With the Riverdale girls, anytime one of us gets offered a project or we’re auditioning for something, we’re able to share information with each other and to have a sounding board with people that are in a similar situation and in a position to understand where you’re coming from. That’s super valuable.

On productivity:
I manage stress through organization. I am most stressed when I feel like everything’s all over the place. I have a crazy Google calendar that’s color-coded, and I’m always using that. The irony is that I’m not great with time management. I’m someone who’s constantly running ten minutes behind, which is something I’ve been fighting my entire life and still haven’t found the solution to.

On self-doubt: 
This career and this passion of mine means so much to me. So now that I have it, it’s too precious for me to screw up. I’m always like, Okay, what’s the right thing to do at this point in my career? What’s the right next step? Am I taking steps toward where I want to get, and is this going to help me get there? I’m probably more cautious than I should be when it comes to picking projects, but I get very afraid of making the wrong choice and ruining everything. I think super catastrophically, like, I’m going to take one bad project and it’ll be the end of my career and I’ll never work again. I tend to be the most anxious when good things are happening: Do Revenge is doing really well. What if I’m terrible at my next project and it all goes to shit? It’s like every time something good happens, I have to be like, Oh my God. But what if it all goes downhill now? What if I’ve peaked? Luckily I have people in my life who remind me that nothing is permanent.

On making time for self-care while traveling: 
Everywhere I go when I’m traveling, I throw a couple of [beauty] masks in my bag —and that’s something I can do anywhere. On the plane, I usually do an eye mask, because I get too nervous about the full face mask. I just don’t like the idea of people staring at me if I’m wearing a mask on my face, though I know most of my friends don’t care about that. The weekly reset eye mask from LOOPS feels more discreet, and usually that’s the very thing I need, because when I’m traveling that much I’m very tired.

Camila Mendes Is Taking Control of Her Career