Riverdale star Camila Mendes, who attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is speaking out about a horrifying experience she had in college. In a cover story for Women's Health, the 25-year-old says she was roofied and sexually assaulted during her freshman year.
The experience inspired her to get a "to build a home" tattoo above her rib after her first year at school. "I got the tattoo after my freshman year," Mendes told the magazine. "I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me." The tattoo is a reminder to "strengthen both her sense of self and the environment around her." Nowadays, whenever she is facing a challenge, she thinks about what she can do physically for herself.
"I danced for seven years, from age 4 to 11. Then I did musicals as a kid, then so much of acting school is movement classes and connecting your breath to your body," Mendes said. "Activity has always been an important part of my life. People sometimes put working out first and don't give their bodies rest. I'll always choose sleep first. I think it's just so underrated."
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officially a healthy woman!!!! thank you @womenshealthmag 🙏🏽✨ this cover means so much to me. it took me a while to view self confidence as a product of physical & mental health, instead of appearance and thinness. i’m grateful for the opportunity to spread that message; i could have used it way earlier in my life. link in bio 🌝
The actress trains at a gym in her building in Vancouver during the 10 months of the year that she is filming Riverdale. She says that lifting weights empowers her and after a hectic day on a sound stage, she prefers working out alone. As for sleep, she tries to get seven to eight-and-a-half hours of rest per night.
Mendes has been very open about the struggles she’s faced in the past, including her battle with bulimia. She says she’s only recently recovered with the help of a therapist and nutritionist. "I needed professionals I trusted to tell me things that I didn't know," she said
Mendes, who has legions of fans around the world who look up to her, hopes to encourage others to speak up and speak out about their own challenges. She says that when she was a teenager, there weren’t any role models for body positivity since being thin was viewed as the only option. "It's health that's important, not appearance. I make choices that are good for me—and not just in my body—but for my soul, for my mind. And sometimes that's eating ice cream because I want to eat ice cream," she said.
This summer, Mendes starred in Coyote Lake, a thriller about a woman and her daughter who live in a deserted guest house near the border in Texas. The pair, who hide some very dark secrets, must contend with two drug dealers who come into their lives. Mendes says it’s the first time she’s been offered the role of something other than a spoiled rich girl. “This character is extremely sheltered and lives on a farm—she’s the complete opposite of Veronica, and that was very restorative for me because it reminded me of my theater days,” she said.
Mendes also just wrapped another project, a Netflix original thriller, Windfall. The film is centered on a young couple who get caught up in a criminal investigation. “What’s nice about that is I’m playing an adult—a young, married woman—and not someone in high school,” she said. In real life, the actress is certainly an adult, having recently bought her mother a house in Florida, a step that is certainly in line with her mantra, “to build a home.”