These days, when most young Hollywood stars attempt to expand their resumes, it’s usually into areas like pop music, fashion design or podcasts. Lili Reinhart, the 24-year-old Ohio-born actress probably best known for playing the iconic Betty Cooper on the Archie Comics CW hit Riverdale, is doing things a little bit differently.
Last fall, she published her first book of poetry, Swimming Lessons. The poems—some of them only a few lines—tackle Reinhart’s experiences with love, friendship, anxiety and trying to make her way in the world.
“I’m not a masterful poet by any means,” says Reinhart, who adds that sharing Swimming Lessons with her fans was both “vulnerable” and “experimental.” “I’m still not 100 percent confident in who I am as a writer. People tell me they really relate to the poetry, and that’s all I could ask for.”
And during the pandemic, which she has mostly spent in Vancouver on the set of Riverdale, she has started practicing reiki, a kind of energy healing. Now that she has finally found the free time to take private lessons, she is well on her way to becoming a reiki master herself.
“It’s about channeling your intuition, your third eye and your powers,” says Reinhart, who is now able to perform reiki both long-distance and in person. “It’s about clearing the energy that gets stuck in your body.”
Reinhart is aware that some people might see this spiritual practice as New Age woo-woo nonsense, “but I’m not here to convince the nonbelievers about it,” she explains. “If you go into it skeptically, it’s probably not going to work. But it’s a beautiful healing experience, and you’re inherently doing healing on yourself.”
“I’m never going to have abs. Abs are made in the kitchen, and I had Dairy Queen and chicken parm last night. And that’s okay. ”
Practicing reiki long-distance has also been a way for Reinhart to stay close with her friends and family during production. Because Riverdale films in Canada, she has mostly had to stay there for the last nine and a half months, due to border controls and COVID-19 protocols. Though she went back to Los Angeles for Christmas, she couldn’t see her family in North Carolina.
“It was the first year of my life that I wasn’t with my family on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” explains Reinhart. “I can’t have that much of a pity party [for myself] because the entire world is dealing with this, but it’s been a long season. We feel the isolation of being here. I know how lucky I am to have this job and I’m thankful to be working.”
It helps that the cast and crew of Riverdale is like a family away from her actual family. She’s especially close to Madelaine Petsch, who plays Cheryl Blossom, and Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica. “We’ve leaned on each other through this time, and we’re just getting closer,” says Reinhart of her female co-stars. “But we still miss our families and, ironically, we all bought homes in Los Angeles this last year and we’re not able to be in them.”
In the early days of the pandemic, when Riverdale (and the world) was on hiatus, Reinhart purchased her first home in the Valley. “I needed a yard,” she says. Her mother told her she had time to look, and so she did. At first, Reinhart was sleeping in her new home on an air mattress, and there’s still a lot to be done—including more furniture and art for the walls. But while she’s not using her new abode, she told her friends back in L.A., “Go enjoy my house while I can’t.”
“It makes me feel good that I have a spot that my friends can use,” Reinhart says.
Since March 2020, Reinhart explains, “I have been on a large self-discovery journey, which has been amazing.” For the first part of quarantine, she was able to spend quality time with close friends off-set. “That was a game-changer for me,” she says. She also painted, mostly flowers. “I love flowers,” she says. And on the day we spoke, Reinhart got her fifth tattoo, “a third eye with a little rose,” which she showed off to her whopping 29 million followers on Instagram.
“I’m definitely not the same person I was when I had to flee Canada [in March 2020],” says Reinhart. “My focus has been on myself, looking inward and trying to grow.” This last year has grounded her, she says. It’s helped her be more present: “I’ve been working on taking the pressure off myself, and stress doesn’t affect me as much,” she explains.
There was a period a few months ago where she became too focused on working out and obsessed with her body image. “I think I had too much time on my hands. I’m single, so I’m very zeroed in on me right now,” says Reinhart, who is also a CoverGirl makeup ambassador. “I was really being hard on myself for not working out a certain way or eating a certain way. And I just had to say, ‘It’s a fucking pandemic. I need to give myself a fucking break. I am doing just fine. I need to cut myself some slack.’”
“I’m never going to have abs,” Reinhart continues. “Abs are made in the kitchen, and I had Dairy Queen and chicken parm last night. And that’s okay. I’m learning to accept that in myself. I’m not a fitness model. I’m never going to be able to maintain that. I’m not going to not eat the ice cream.”
More than other social media platforms, she has found inspiration on TikTok in the “beautiful community of all shapes and sizes cheering each other on. It’s not amazing to see someone on Instagram calling me fat, but people are never going to stop body-shaming. It’s a matter of what I can do to make myself feel better about that. My body is a journey that I have with myself.”
Part of that journey continues to be expressing herself through poems. “I’ve written a lot since” publishing Swimming Lessons, she says; poems “that are a lot better.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready to share them,” Reinhart says. “Though if they can help someone, great. That’s better than having them sit on my phone.”
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