Lili Reinhart's Impressive Career Through The Years

Actor Lili Reinhart knows all too well that fame can be a double-edged sword. Sure, there are perks like scoring invites to exclusive Hollywood events and hobnobbing with A-listers, but on the flip side, being up for public consumption is a lot to take on. "I don't act to be famous," she once told Harper's Bazaar. "I just am a performer." Though she has tried to keep certain pieces of her personal life out of the spotlight and away from scrutiny, it is much easier said than done. "People will always have something to say," she continued. "I've accepted that. It doesn't mean it's not frustrating when people say those things."

Though she did not dream of one day becoming a celebrity whose personal life ended up under a microscope, the "Riverdale" star has yet to let said microscope get in the way of her goals. From an early age, she knew what she wanted to do, and she wasted no time in getting her foot in the door and making a name for herself. Betty or not, here comes the history of Lili Reinhart's acting career.

Lili Reinhart started auditioning early

Getting into show business as a child can be a tricky thing, but a solid support system can make all the difference in the world. According to The New York Times, Ohio native Lili Reinhart was eager to start working as an actor when she was a kid, and her parents were ready to make that dream a reality — even if that meant clearing their schedules and loading up the car for roadtrips. "My mom would drive me from Cleveland to New York City and use my dad's hotel points for auditions. They were the most supportive parents that I could have," Reinhart shared with W Magazine. "Without them, I wouldn't have gotten anywhere. My mom would take off work to take me to auditions, because they believed in me, which is a very big leap of faith ... They knew it brought me so much happiness." Given the way Reinhart's career ended up going, it seems safe to say taking that big leap of faith worked out. 

That's not to say there were not some road blocks along the way. As she said in a BuzzFeed video, "I auditioned for 'Glee,' I auditioned for Tom Hooper's 'Les Mis.'" Neither of those auditions panned out, but fate would have a different plan for Reinhart. 

A memorable Law & Order: SVU role

As Lili Reinhart's acting career began to pick up steam, she landed a gig that's become a rite of passage for television actors in NYC: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." After two shorts and one TV series for children, a 15-year-old Reinhart appeared in the Season 13 episode "Lost Traveller" as — spoiler alert — a murderous high schooler named Courtney. Understandably, getting such a juicy role in the long-running procedural was a big deal for the fledgling actor. Ahead of the episode's premiere, her mother told Cleveland's West Shore Sun, "We're hoping with 'Law & Order' coming out, it'll open up some more opportunities." Spoiler alert: it did.

It may be difficult to imagine Reinhart playing a cold-blooded killer, but she delivered a memorable, bone-chilling performance. And yes, she is well aware that she was playing against type. As she said in a behind-the-scenes interview, "Courtney ... is the queen bee of the school. She's very mean, obviously." Years later, she told W magazine, "My character was evil and nasty! In general, I have never auditioned for evil and nasty young girls." While she may have not made a habit of it, auditioning to play a bad guy early on in her career proved to be a good move.

Her high school years weren't her favorite

This probably won't come as a surprise given how young she was when she got serious about pursuing an acting career, but Lili Reinhart did not have the most conventional high school experience. As she told Stephen Colbert, "I didn't [go to prom]. Unfortunately, I started online school when I was 16 so I could focus on acting."

It sounds like Reinhart did not miss in-person school after she made the switch to an online curriculum. "Every day, in my eighth-grade year, I would cry in the morning," she once shared on Instagram Live (via Paper). "I did everything in my power to not go to school. I hated it. It caused me so much anxiety." In a separate chat with Allure, she said she had difficulty making friends with her classmates.

When she wasn't busy with her studies or taping auditions, Reinhart worked in retail and food service, all the while struggling with her mental health. "Acting was genuinely the only thing that I could do that didn't give me anxiety," she said in The New York Times. "This is kind of it. I really don't have a backup plan here." As she shared on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," she was still working at Pier 1 Imports when she scored the gig that would change her life. 

Becoming Betty Cooper on Riverdale

Nowadays, Lili Reinhart is mostly known for her role as Betty Cooper on "Riverdale," which she has been playing since 2017. She has brought this character to life for over 100 episodes, making fans fall in love with her time and time again. Behind the scenes, she struck up a relationship with Cole Sprouse and has created strong friendships with co-stars like Casey Cott.

Although it's hard to picture anyone else playing the role of Betty Cooper, Reinhart almost didn't get it. "They said no, and then I moved to L.A. and they still hadn't cast the role of Betty and so I was able to go in in person because the first time was a self-tape," the actor recalled to E! News. "And then I went in person and I made it past the first round, second round, third round and then did my test and I got the role."

Season 7 of "Riverdale" will be its last and Reinhart knows she won't have another project like this in which she spends so many years working with the same group of people. "I really dread the day that it ends because I will be sobbing," she told Newsweek, "but I told my team, I told my friends, when 'Riverdale' ends and I come home, I'm going to need a good two weeks to just process and kind of be maybe left alone a little bit."

She made the jump to the big screen

Lili Reinhart has had great success on the small screen, she wanted to take it a step further and try her luck in movies. When the time came to make the jump between small and big screen, Reinhart did it as part of "Galveston" and "Hustlers." Two completely new challenges that gave her a chance to play characters that were nothing like her "Riverdale" role. When asked about playing such an emotionally demanding part in the intense thriller "Galveston," she told Shine On Media, "I think it was very exhausting for sure, it was more like I felt anxiety before I shot the scene ... and afterwards, I think I was just more relieved than anything for the emotion to be over."

When it came to "Hustlers," what mostly attracted Reinhart was to play a character who was completely different from Betty Cooper. "It was quite a refreshing role to play because I usually don't play girls who don't have their head on completely straight. [Betty] knows what she wants, she's incredibly smart and a leader, and Annabelle was the opposite," she told ET. "She's certainly not stupid, but she's naïve and young and I think she really was looking at the older girls to guide her and take her under their wing." Reinhart took big swings with her career and, once again, proved she has a bright future ahead.

She became an executive producer

Like many successful Hollywood actors, Lili Reinhart decided to make the jump from actor to producer, starting with the adaptation of Krystal Sutherland's novel "Our Chemical Hearts." In 2019, Deadline reported that Reinhart would join the project as the star of "Chemical Hearts," but also as an executive producer.

This story, which follows a high school student who finds her passion when she begins working at the school's newspaper, wasn't the only one that caught Reinhart's attention. "Look Both Ways" was her following project. As executive producer, she said to Newsweek, "We wanted a female filmmaker as a director who was a mother, and so we got Wanuri (Kahiu)."

Although for some it may be hard to change between titles and know where the actor ends and the producer starts, that doesn't seem to be the problem for Reinhart. As she once told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show," "It's better to have the executive producer title otherwise you're just like a bossy actor."

She landed a deal with Amazon

Once tried her hand at producing, Lili Reinhart did not want to stop. So she took things a step further and created her own production company called Small Victory Productions. However, it is no small victory that, as Deadline reported in 2021, she signed her first deal with Amazon Studios for movies and TV. Regarding this acquisition, studio head Jennifer Salke said in a statement, "Lili's on-screen charisma, as well as her passion for dynamic storytelling, brings a refreshing perspective to the young adult genre, and we can't wait for our global audiences to see what we have in store." After their success working together on the 2020 film "Chemical Hearts," the "Riverdale" star and Amazon recognized they had a good thing and were eager to see where else this collaboration could go. In the aforementioned statement, Reinhart added, "I had such a great experience producing 'Chemical Hearts' with Amazon and am looking forward to expanding our relationship."

Elaborating on her vision for her production company, Reinhart told IndieWire, "We want to dive into exploring queer stories, diverse mental health issues, a wide variety of things, but for young people, people in their twenties like me who are still pretty clueless and figuring things out. I want to make shows and movies that I can relate to and that I know my friends can relate to." Talk about a refreshing and necessary mission statement. 

She teamed up with big name brands

A number of famous celebrities have become the face of famous brands. Lili Reinhart did it big and became an ambassador for two world-renowned companies: American Express and CoverGirl. Reinhart admitted to Green Matters that she grew up not knowing much about the environment, but she was eager to partner with American Express when the company decided to use recycled ocean plastic to create new cards. As Reinhart said, "[It's] truly one of my favorite things about the card, and I think that it's such an innovative and wonderful thing that they're doing there."

Being honest about what she knows and doesn't know, about who she is, is what helped her become the face of CoverGirl. As per Cosmetics Business, Erika Woods, VP of Marketing for CoverGirl, said the company was eager to team up with Reinhart because her authenticity lines up with the company's values. Makeup has been a huge part of Reinhart's life for a long time; as she once wrote in Refinery29, she prefers to do her own makeup because she knows how to work with her acne-prone skin.   

"Since I was 13, make-up has been an incredible source of confidence for me and a tool that can be used to enhance the natural beauty that exists in all of us," she said in a statement, per Cosmetics Business. "I am so honored to partner with Covergirl, an iconic brand that is inclusive of anyone who finds joy in playing with make-up."

Lili Reinhart released a book of poetry

Still in her 20s, Lili Reinhart has established herself as an actor, producer, and author. In 2020, the "Riverdale" star decided to dip her toes in the writing world and release a book of poems called "Swimming Lessons: Poems." Never one to shy away from putting herself out there, the poetry collection gives fans a peek into her life, as well as the ups and downs that come with being a public figure.

When asked by Vogue about the themes that appear in her book, Reinhart said, "It's a little bit of everything. There's a lot of heartache, but there's also a lot of really beautiful love poems in there. ... [I also write about] the beginning of my step into the spotlight, and how much anxiety it gave me—feeling like I was going against the grain, in a way. ... And I touch upon grief as well." Her poems have bits and pieces of herself, for people to get to know her better beyond the characters she has played. As she said in The New York Times, "I wanted to kind of step outside this box of being a CW actress." 

She came out as bisexual

Coming out can be complicated for a number of reasons, particularly if you have to do it under the spotlight. But Lili Reinhart came out as bisexual on her own terms when she was ready for the world to know. According to Glamour, she shared this piece of her life in a June 2020 Instagram Story about a LGBTQIA+ BLM protest. "Although I've never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman," she wrote. "And I will be joining this protest today."

After "The Owl House" introduced a bisexual character, Reinhart chatted with the BBC about bisexuality not being a phase — contrary to the all-too-common TV and movie trope that suggests otherwise. "I think it's important to make it more normal, as I feel in cinema and TV, the characters are usually gay or straight, there's not a lot of bisexual characters — but it should be normalised," she said. In a separate interview with Nylon, she shared that she'd long been out to her co-stars, family members, and friends. 

While she feels we have a long way to go with regards to bisexual representation in the media, Reinhart was caught off guard by the response to her post about her sexuality. On a subsequent episode of the "LGBTQ&A" podcast, she shared, "[Coming out] just didn't seem like a big deal to me ... the way that I look at the world right now ... I'm like, 'isn't everyone bisexual?'"