Details About Charles Melton For Every Riverdale Fan

Charles Melton has not even been acting for a decade, but he has already made his mark on Hollywood. He started out as a model before transitioning to acting with bit roles, and then exploded after being cast as the new Reggie Mantle (he replaced Ross Butler in the role) on "Riverdale" in 2017. Since then, Melton has continued to book higher and higher-profile roles, mostly in film. He has also become a huge social media presence and now has over 6 million Instagram followers. There is plenty to know about this fascinating actor/model, a former college athlete who is fighting for more Asian representation on screen.

Melton's roles have shown his versatility as an actor and his ability to step into any genre. He can go from a teenage romance like "The Sun Is Also a Star" to action flicks like "Bad Boys For Life" to the horror genre, as he has done in "American Horror Stories." And though "Riverdale" is soon closing up shop (per Entertainment Weekly), Melton has plenty of projects on the horizon, including the film "May December," also starring Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore and directed by Oscar nominee Todd Haynes. Here are some of the most interesting details about Charles Melton for every "Riverdale" fan.

His family moved around a lot

It would be hard to pinpoint where "home" is for Charles Melton because he spent his early life moving around the globe. His family's nomadic lifestyle was due to his father's job in the army, and Melton referred to himself as "an army brat" in a GQ interview. Melton was born in Juneau, Alaska, and subsequently lived in many other U.S. states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, and Kansas, as he noted in a video for the same outlet. His family once moved to Seoul, South Korea, where Melton spent five years and enjoyed the time with family.

After South Korea, Melton's family moved to Germany, which he also loved. "In Germany, we were stationed in Illesheim," he told Heavy. "And I remember school in Ansbach military base and then, you know, every weekend, you know, the bases are all different sizes and Illesheim was the smallest military base in Germany. So, we would drive to, you know, the military base in Bitburg to go shopping at the BX or PX because it was so big." After four years in Germany, the family moved to Kansas, which is where Melton went to high school and, for a bit, college. He lived there for five years, per Mixed Asian Media, then moved to New York for a couple of years, followed by Los Angeles and then Vancouver, where "Riverdale" films.

Charles Melton has embraced his mixed-race identity

Per the Los Angeles Times, Charles Melton's father is a white American who grew up in Oklahoma, and who was stationed in South Korea when he met Melton's Korean mother. In an interview with Mixed Asian Media, Melton noted that his mother moved to the United States in 1990, the year before he was born, and became a citizen about a decade later. "I've always felt this kind of unique pull between two different worlds. I'm half-Korean, half-Western," he told Esquire Singapore, adding, "At times when you're grappling both worlds internally, it can feel like you're not Korean enough for the Korean community, and at others, like you're not Western enough for the Western community. You kind of grow up in this dichotomy of who you're meant to be, and I'm constantly in pursuit of solving that mystery."

In March 2021, amidst growing anti-Asian hate, Melton penned an op-ed for Variety in which he discussed his mixed-race identity, as well as the racism he witnessed his mother face as a Korean immigrant. He also discussed his own experiences with his Asian roots — including the things he wants to discover. "At the moment, I'm learning Korean. I can speak Korean pretty fluently already, but I'm trying to grow my knowledge with lessons, so I can connect better with the whole side of my Korean family," he told Esquire Singapore later in 2022. "I want to be able to ask them deep questions about their lives and who they are, because it matters to me."

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He loves Korean food and Korean karaoke

He may be brushing up on his Korean language skills, but Charles Melton has long connected with his Korean culture. Per Mixed Asian Media, Melton grew up speaking Korean as well as eating Korean cuisine. Food, in particular, was very important in his family. "Back home in Kansas my mom has four refrigerators, and she makes the best kimchi, man," he explained in the interview. "Three of those refrigerators are for her spring kimchi, summer kimchi, and winter kimchi, and you know she cooks every meal. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there's always rice." In a 2021 GQ UK article, Melton said he still eats kimchi regularly, as a side for just about every meal.

In addition to kimchi, kimbap and bibimbap are other favorites of the actor, via Mixed Asian Media, but one of his favorite Korean cultural elements has nothing to do with food — it is karaoke. On multiple occasions, including an interview he did for BuzzFeed Celeb, Melton has mentioned his love of Korean karaoke and his go-to song, "Halo" by Beyoncé. He doubled down on "Halo" as his jam in a separate video interview for Wired, and told GQ that karaoke and BBQ were two reasons why he loved living in South Korea as a child.

His college football career

A surprising number of male actors are former college football players — including Joel McHale, Burt Reynolds, Ed O'Neill, and Nick Nolte (via MTV) — so Charles Melton is in good company. The actor played football for Kansas State University, with aspirations to go pro after college. "It all started back in Manhattan, Kansas, 'The Little Apple,'" he said in a Wired video interview. "I was an all-star football player two years in a row." Melton's nickname was "the kamikaze." He explained on "The Late Late Show With James Corden," "Because I would run down on kickoff and, with relentless passion, and just blow s*** up, splatter people."

At Kansas State, Melton played defense (he was a safety) and trained with the school's legendary coach Bill Snyder, for whom the KSU football stadium is named, as he discussed with GQ. Per Women's Wear Daily, Melton decided to leave college — and football — at age 20 to pursue a career in entertainment. The stats from his one season, 2010, are still available on ESPN's website. One of the major perks of his fame has been meeting some of his NFL idols, Melton said on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." "With athletes, I get really starstruck 'cause that was my dream to play in the NFL," he gushed, while noting that he is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, in particular.

The radio ad that changed his life

Charles Melton has repeatedly been asked how he went from being a promising college athlete to a star on one of The CW's top shows, and it is quite an interesting story. It all started when he heard about an acting showcase, which totally changed the trajectory of his future and led him to Hollywood. "I was driving in a car on my way to football practice and I was listening to the radio and they had one of those like art showcases, like 'do you want to be a star? Do you want to meet talent agents, managers, producers?'" he said in a Women's Wear Daily article. "And I called in and I drove 45 minutes to Salina, Kansas, to a Marriott hotel, and did a Twizzlers commercial audition."

After he got a call back from the Arts Showcase, Melton was told he would have to fork over $3,000 for the chance to meet with industry insiders — for cold reads, runway walks, monologues, and a mock commercial — in Orlando, Florida, per the Los Angeles Times. "So I ended up crying to my parents to let me do this — literally crying, full, real-deal crying. My dad was like, 'How are you going to pay us back?' And my mom convinced him," he said. And while on the surface it might seem like some huge scam, it actually was not. Once at the talent showcase, Melton received 23 callbacks and enough positivity to quit school and move to Los Angeles.

Charles Melton modeled in New York before he started acting

Though he did not get an agent out of the Arts Showcase he attended, Charles Melton got enough notice that he was encouraged to move to Los Angeles in pursuit of an acting career. Things did not exactly go according to plan, as he was quickly pushed in the direction of modeling instead. He spent much of the next two years in New York City, per the Los Angeles Times, where he worked for brands such as Kenneth Cole, Dolce & Gabbana, and MAC. In 2014, he officially moved to Los Angeles and made the transition to acting with a small role in "Glee," where he played "model." "Glee, Season 5, episode 5, 43 minutes in. Don't take a bathroom break, you'll see me for about 43 seconds," he joked in GQ video.

After "Glee" came a handful of short films and a two-episode stint on "American Horror Story." In 2017, everything changed when Melton was cast on "Riverdale," which opened up plenty of doors for him in Hollywood. In addition to acting, Melton continues to model as a secondary career. He was a cover model for the Saks Men's Fashion Book in Fall 2019, per L'Officiel, and is starring in Hugo Boss' 2022 holiday ads, per The Fashionisto. He even became the face of Captain Morgan's Sliced Apple Spiced Rum, which playfully tackled the idea of the "shotface" one makes when taking a shot of alcohol, per PR News Wire.

He shares a love of movies with his dad

Charles Melton grew up moving around from place to place, which meant that he really relied on familial traditions to help create a true sense of "home." For him, one of these traditions involved the cinema — a place he ventured to quite often. "Growing up, my best friend was the movie theaters," he told Women's Wear Daily in 2018. "I'd go to the movies every week, multiple times a week, with my dad or alone. We watched everything: 'The Matrix,' 'Armageddon,' 'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,' 'The Notebook,' the Marvel Universe movies. But I think my favorite movie I watched with my dad would be 'A Knight's Tale' with Heath Ledger."

Even at home, Melton was always watching films with his father. He told Esquire Singapore that his dad is still his favorite person to see a film with because of the way that he reacts to things and the way they can jointly appreciate meaning in movies. "We could always find some sort of kernel of truth in them, that made life more inspiring," he explained in the interview. "Movies in that way, have kind of shaped me. Yes, sometimes you have to take what you see with a grain of salt, but they're a great way of finding the connection between art and life." Melton's dad was also a big "Archie" comics fan, so he was ecstatic when his son was cast on "Riverdale," even if it was on TV and not the silver screen yet.

Charles Melton was a top-rated dog walker on Wag

Like many people first entering the entertainment business, Charles Melton had to work multiple jobs when he was just starting out. After transitioning away from modeling and moving to Los Angeles, Melton drew upon the customer service skills he learned as teenage worker at Wendy's and Arby's (per "The Kelly Clarkson Show") when he became the takeout person at Chin Chin, a Chinese restaurant in Brentwood, per The Last Magazine. He told Cosmopolitan that he was unable to get a restaurant to hire him as a waiter, despite those movie star looks.

Melton's most fascinating job during this time period was dog walker, a business he managed through the popular app Wag. Per the Los Angeles Times, Melton was at one point the app's top-rated walker, owing at least in part to the long summaries he would leave for pet owners. "That was my way of income. I walked over 300 dogs, 30 minutes or an hour at a time," Melton told Cosmopolitan. "And I would write super-detailed reviews about these dogs as if they were human beings. I loved getting to know their personalities. Walking dogs, in a way, saved me back then." As he shared with The Last Magazine, Melton took care of those 300 dogs in only two months — an incredible feat, considering that the 150 to 300 hours walking the pets does not even include the time spent traveling to and from gigs.

Asian representation is a priority in his career

Though he has certainly faced hurdles as a half-Asian actor working in Hollywood — a casting agent once even told him to change his last name to "Yu" so his moniker sounded more "Asian," per Hunger — Charles Melton is overall quite optimistic about the future. "I think we're moving in the right direction with representation," he once told The Hollywood Reporter

As a kid, Melton recalls only really seeing Asian actors in certain kinds of films and in a narrow range of roles, like the sidekick, per The Last Magazine. "I remember my dad saying, 'Charles, if you keep it up with taekwondo and everything, you can be the next Jet Li, Bruce Lee, or Jackie Chan,'" Melton told the Los Angeles Times. "That was cool to me at the time, but now, looking back, I realize that was his only reference to seeing someone of Asian descent in film." As The Last Magazine noted in their profile, Melton has already made history as the first Asian-American male to headline a teen romance film, "The Sun Is Also a Star" (Lana Condor began the "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" franchise in 2018 for Netflix). 

Melton has also become a sex symbol thanks to his role on "Riverdale" and his Instagram, which has no shortage of thirst traps and pouty selfies. "A lot of Asian-origin actors never thought they'd find themselves in a place where they were seen as trendy, coveted or desirable [in a mass media way], because we just never grew up watching that reflected on-screen," he admitted to Esquire Singapore.

He is infatuated with his pup

We all love our pets, but Charles Melton takes things to the next level with his dog, an adorable husky named Neya. Melton adopted Neya during the height of COVID-19, where everyone was stuck at home 24/7. He met her through his partnership with Purina One, a pet food company he works with to encourage animal rescue and support shelters, per Cosmopolitan. "I've never adopted a dog before. I did have a family dog growing up, a Jack Russell terrier. But this was probably a week before quarantine," Melton told the outlet. "... I met Neya, and honestly, this sounds so cliché, but honestly, it felt like a match made in heaven. We've been inseparable since."

While some of us were tearing our hair out stuck at home with pets — not to mention roommates, partners, kids, parents, and whoever else you were holed up with — Melton and Neya were living their best lives. Together they took a three-month road trip across the Western U.S., per Cosmopolitan. "During the pandemic and post-pandemic, I drove probably about 10,000 plus miles with Neya," the star told Heavy. "And you know, I really had to map where I was going to go, what sights we were going to see, how often I should be sleeping, checking in with people on the road trip, just experiencing the views, no texting while driving, no social media while driving." Melton's Instagram documented all of their fun, including visiting Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon, both National Parks in Utah.

Charles Melton's mom made a cameo in his first film

Technically, Charles Melton's first full-length movie was the YouTube original "The Thinning: New World Order," but we are going to defer to NBC News, which decided that it was the 2019 film "The Sun Is Also a Star" that should be considered Melton's big-screen debut, since the former film never hit theaters. "The Sun Is Also a Star" is based upon a book of the same name, and when author Nicola Yoon asked her social media followers who should be cast as the male lead, Daniel Bae, the Internet came up with Melton. He told NBC News that more than 200 fan accounts tagged him, which prompted him to investigate. 

"I reached out to my reps, I was like 'guys, get me the script.' They were like, 'Charles, they just announced the news today,'" he said in a Women's Wear Daily interview. "So I bought the book, read it in two days, fast-forward 10 months, got the script, auditioned for it. I'm very passionate about the role and knew that I wanted to play that role." 

Once he was officially cast, Melton got to work making the character his own, and learning to step into leading man territory. And though we are sure that was intimidating, there was at least one friendly face on set — Melton's mother, who made a cameo in a subway scene. "She's one of the frustrated commuters. She looks at her FitBit and huffs and puffs and looks around. That was really amazing to see," he told NBC News.

He dated his co-star Camila Mendes — twice

In Hollywood, co-stars dating is so common that it is almost shocking now if a multi-year TV series doesn't have at least one real-life couple in the cast. On "Riverdale," there have been multiple romances — the most talked-about being that between Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper) and Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), who dated for most of the show's early seasons, per People. But true fans are also aware that Charles Melton and Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge) became an item after meeting on the series. In fact, they were so into each other that they dated twice. Melton joined the show in Season 2, replacing Ross Butler in the role of Reggie Mantle. That was toward the end of 2017, and by September 2018, there were already rumors about Melton and Mendes spending time together as more than just friends (per E! News).

Mendes made things Instagram-official in October 2018, according to Seventeen, and they continued to flaunt pieces of their relationship online (and on the red carpet) until they split just after celebrating their one-year anniversary. Though the couple got back together in June 2021, per E! News, that second outing was short-lived. Melton became social media official with his current girlfriend, Chase Sui Wonders, in July 2022 by posting a photo of them cuddled up at a baseball game on Instagram. The comment section was rife with mentions of Mendes, indicating just how invested "Riverdale" fans were in their ship.

He carries around notebooks and loves letters

Don't let the model looks fool you — Charles Melton is so much more than his perfectly-formed cheekbones and a gorgeous head of locks. Shed the stereotypes you might have about athletes and/or actors, because Melton is actually kind of a mushy dude. For instance, when he was dating Camila Mendes, he confessed to giving her handwritten love letters in a People magazine interview. He also said he was a believer in love at first sight, though that may have simply been a line, since he was promoting a movie that was about just that.

Melton is so in touch with his thoughts and feelings that he actually totes around a notebook at all times, as he discussed in a GQ video interview. "I carry them with me. I can put them in a pocket of a dress shirt, in my back pocket, just doing a lot of writing," he said. As he explained in the video, Melton uses his journals to write down everything from feelings to goals to letters to his loved ones. He also noted that he sometimes writes poetry, much like his character Daniel in "The Sun Is Also a Star."

Charles Melton speaks up for what he believes in

Charles Melton's time in the limelight has not been without scandal, as he at one point apologized for past tweets he made that fat-shamed people, particularly women, via Us Weekly. But these tweets were posted in 2012, and we like to think that people can change, especially when they are apologetic and seem to fully understand the issues at play. Not only has Melton shown more care in his social media posts since becoming famous, but he has also done some great work for causes and issues he supports. For instance, he wrote an insightful and quite vulnerable guest column for Variety in 2021, amidst growing AAPI violence and hate in America.

Beyond that, the Ariana Grande music video star has partnered with companies to advertise campaigns for issues dear to his heart. One of these partnerships was with the United Services Automobile Association, wherein Melton took part in their Safe Driving Campaign, per Heavy. He told the outlet that his experience with road trips made the partnership a natural fit. 

Additionally, Melton involves himself with several charities, such as the Special Olympics — for whom he is a Global Ambassador — and the Chinese Canadian Youth Athletic Association and the Jeremy Lin Foundation, both of which benefited when he participated in a charity basketball event in 2022. He and co-star KJ Apa have also played soccer for charity in the past, specifically to aid the BC Children's Hospital.