The Cast Of Riverdale Before The Fame

Riverdale first premiered on The CW network back in 2017, and since then, the cast members have all shot to A-list fame. They've gained millions of followers on social media and have attended the biggest Hollywood events like the Met Gala and the Academy Awards. And while some of the stars like Cole Sprouse and Robin Givens were already veterans in the entertainment industry when they were cast on Riverdale, others like Camila Mendes and KJ Apa were just getting started on their careers as actors.

Since Riverdale rose to massive popularity, the stars of the show have gone on to work on other major projects. Some have starred in movies, others have written their own books, and one even took part in a Riverdale spin-off show. But before the show's success, some of the cast members were working multiple jobs, finishing up college, and even considered quitting acting. So, let's dive into what the cast of Riverdale was like before the fame.

Lili Reinhart was a special FX makeup artist

Lili Reinhart got her start in acting back in 2010 and before Riverdale, she told W that, "My mom would drive me from Cleveland to New York City and use my dad's hotel points for auditions." She was passionate about acting and dished to Coveteur that she moved out to Los Angeles to fully pursue a career as an actor when she was 18. Reinhart explained to W that her mental health was so low at this time due to feeling "defeated" that when she managed to land a hostessing job at Buca di Beppo, she "threw up in the Uber because [she] started having a panic attack." Ultimately, she moved back home with her parents.

Outside landing small acting gigs, Reinhart perfected the art of special FX makeup and showed off her talents on Instagram. If you scroll back on her feed to 2015, which was right around when Reinhart moved out to LA, you'll see her showing off her impressive looks. She's created special FX makeup looks ranging from frostbite, to spooky Halloween smiles, to even open wounds (trigger warning: this one is pretty realistic). And even after Reinhart became a major star on Riverdale, she still flexes her makeup skills and did a YouTube video with her co-star Madelaine Petsch, where she gave Petsch some makeup wounds.

Cole Sprouse almost quit acting for good before Riverdale

While Cole Sprouse was famous long before his Riverdale days, he actually considered leaving acting behind for good before landing the role of Jughead Jones. Fans know Cole and his brother Dylan Sprouse grew up in the entertainment industry and starred in their own Disney Channel show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. They also had roles on the show Friends, in the movie Big Daddy, and more. But when they graduated high school, Cole and Dylan decided to disappear from the Hollywood scene for a while and attend college at New York University.

Cole spoke to W about how he went to college to give himself "a break from the entertainment industry," and he fully immersed himself in studying archaeology while at NYU. He ended up getting an internship in archaeology after he graduated, and he told W that "[he] didn't really think of returning to acting, at all."

But Cole told Bustle that he read the script for Riverdale and was drawn back into acting specifically for the part of Jughead Jones. He said, "I read the pilot for Riverdale and really enjoyed it, so when I got the role I decided to fulfill my obligation and see where it would take me." But even as a full-time actor again, Cole still makes time for his other passions like photography.

KJ Apa was a guitar prodigy before his Riverdale fame

Before Riverdale, KJ Apa had a few recurring roles on some New Zealand TV series, he had brown hair (which is his natural color, though he rocks the Archie Andrews red), and he was a guitar prodigy. Riverdale fans know that Apa has shown off his musical talent on the show, but it hasn't been to the full extent of his impressive abilities. Back in 2011, a fan took a video of Apa jamming out on the guitar in his hometown Auckland, New Zealand, and not only was Apa a completely adorable teen, but his guitar skills will also blow your mind.

And even since he's shot to fame as Archie Andrews, Apa still makes time for music. The actor teamed up with his Riverdale co-star Rob Raco to form the band, The Good Time Boys. They played their first US gig together at Teen Vogue's Young Hollywood party in 2019, and in March 2021, Apa and another co-star, Hart Denton, released their first song together called "Atmosphere." 

So, what does Apa love more, music or acting? Well, he told Teen Vogue that when it comes to music, "I'm always excited to play, I don't care if it's in front of a thousand people or in front of three people ... I don't know if I would prefer one or the other, but I definitely know that I was meant to play music." Maybe someday we'll get a full album from Apa — fingers crossed!

Madelaine Petsch worked three jobs before getting cast on Riverdale

It may seem like the Riverdale cast members all shot to fame quickly, but not all of them have overnight success stories. Madelaine Petsch spoke to Cosmopolitan about how she worked three different jobs just to pay her rent before Riverdale. According to the outlet, Petsch worked at "a coffee shop in the morning, [was] a personal assistant to a photographer in Venice during the day, and [hosted] at a restaurant in Beverly Hills at night."

Even with balancing responsibilities, Petsch somehow found time for auditions and didn't give up on her dream of acting. She said, "I used to write down every audition and the feedback I got. There were nights I was at home, crying, thinking I'd never make it. I'd get up the next day and go to the audition, do my best and try my hardest." And when she finally landed an audition for Riverdale, she actually originally read for Lili Reinhart's role, Betty Cooper. Ultimately, it all worked out, because Petsch is the perfect Cheryl Blossom!

And even with all the success that Petsch has had, she is thankful for how hard she worked before fame. As she told Cosmopolitan, "Working those three jobs totally prepared me for what I'm doing right now. We work between 14 and 20 hours a day, five or six days a week... It's a lot of hard work to be a series regular on a television show but it's also the most fun I've never had."

Riverdale was Camila Mendes' first job out of college

Before Riverdale, Camila Mendes, a.k.a. Veronica Lodge, had done some small acting projects like commercials, but Riverdale was her first major gig. Mendes spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how she actually landed the job at Riverdale just weeks before her graduation from New York University. And in case you were wondering, yes, she said she did attend parties thrown by the Sprouse brothers, though Mendes admits that Cole Sprouse didn't remember meeting her.

She spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how she got the Riverdale job so quickly. Camila explained that was interning at a talent agency at the time and eventually convinced them to represent her as an actor too. So she started auditioning for roles during her senior year of college. Mendes admitted that "Some teachers were really cool about it, and some teachers... weren't." But she was determined to pay off her student loans and make it as an actor. Thankfully, she graduated and landed the role of Veronica right around the same time and the rest was history. Recalling that period to Entertainment Weekly, the star mused, "It's just so funny to think about that time in my life. I would have never thought in that moment that I would be here."

Vanessa Morgan competed on The Amazing Race before Riverdale

Vanessa Morgan plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, but before she landed that role she'd been acting and singing professionally since the early 2000s. By six years old she was performing at community events and telethons where she grew up in Canada. In the late '90s, Morgan landed a scholarship at a Hollywood acting academy.

She also started appearing in TV movies in the early 2000s and by 2012, she had guest-starring roles on shows like Disney Channel's A.N.T. Farm and Degrassi: Next Generation. In 2013, Morgan also appeared alongside her sister on the first season of The Amazing Race Canada. They finished in third place which is pretty impressive!

And as for Riverdale, like many of the other cast members, Morgan didn't originally audition for the position she landed up with. She started off reading for Josie McCoy. In a YouTube video, Morgan and her co-star, Madelaine Petsch revealed they became fast friends in the audition process. And Mogan was grateful that she ended up being cast as Toni Topaz telling Teen Vogue Toni is "way more her." It's also an added bonus that she gets to play an on-screen romance with her BFF Petsch.

Casey Cott wanted to win a Tony before his Riverdale days

Casey Cott is known for his iconic role as Kevin Keller on Riverdale, but he's another cast member who shot from anonymity to stardom after landing his Riverdale role. Before the series, Cott was a diehard theater junkie and "Tony hopeful" (via Town & Country). Before landing his role on Riverdale, Cott landed a couple of minor guest-starring roles like on Law & Order SVU and in one of Sabrina Carpenter's short films. But Riverdale was really his first big break and he chalks it up to luck.

Cott spoke to Out about how he was cast as Kevin Keller "almost by accident." He explained that he had literally just graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and "took part in a talent showcase in Los Angeles." Then, all in one day, Cott said he was spotted by Warner Brothers executives at the showcase, he auditioned for the part of Kevin, and he was officially cast in the role. Cott said, "I am either the luckiest actor in the world, or maybe they really just had no other actor to cast." Cott said he flew to Vancouver the next morning and went straight to the table read. What a whirlwind! And who knows, maybe he still can win that Tony someday — we certainly wouldn't rule it out.

Charles Melton was a dog walker before getting cast on Riverdale

Before getting cast on season two of Riverdale, Charles Melton had smaller acting roles here and there. He made his first TV appearance in 2014 on Glee and then guest-starred in two episodes of American Horror Story in 2015 and 2016. He was eventually brought on for season two of Riverdale as Reggie Mantle, after Ross Butler left to star in 13 Reasons Why.

But before Melton got cast on Riverdale, he was a full-time dog walker. During an appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan, Melton revealed that he was a dog walker for the app Wag (which he explained is "like Uber" for dog walking). So yep, the dreamy actor could've walked your dog back in 2017 and you had no idea. Melton said, "I was the number one dog walker. Over three hundred dogs in two months. I still get notifications and requests for people to have me walk their dogs." Melton also told Insider that he watched season one of Riverdale, so that's pretty exciting that he was brought on for season two!

Ashleigh Murray was behind on rent when she got cast as Josie McCoy

Ashleigh Murray was working hard trying to make it as an actor before landing the role of Josie McCoy on Riverdale. She had guest-starring roles on shows like Younger and The Following, but around the time of when she auditioned for Riverdale, she considered leaving acting behind.

Murray spoke to Collider in 2017 about her Riverdale audition saying, "I was $4,700 behind in rent. I lived in New York City, so it was a lot of money. And I was just about to take a break from acting for about six months, until I could get myself back on my feet financially, and then hit the ground running. This was my last audition." She remembered going to the Riverdale audition with only $12 in her bank account and had to ask her mom for five extra dollars to buy food.

Murray said as she was on her way home, her manager called her and told her they were flying her out to Los Angeles for a screen test. She recalls the entire process being a whirlwind and said she got the job "overnight." Murray said, "I came out with this role. It's just been snowballing, ever since. It was the craziest thing I've ever experienced, in my life." And snowballing is right because she was not only a part of Riverdale but also a part of the spin-off Katy Keene starring Lucy Hale.

Mark Consuelos was a stripper back in the day

Mark Consuelos, who plays the infamous Hiram Lodge on Riverdale, has been a Hollywood staple since the 1990's. His first big break was on the soap opera All My Children, but before he landed that role, Consuelos was a stripper.

In a 2012 interview with Vanity Fair, Consuelos' wife Kelly Ripa (who starred alongside him in All My Children) opened up about his stripper past. She said, "A lot of hot guys in Hollywood have done that." Ripa explained that Consuelos was fresh out of college in South Florida so, "he was in South Florida, he's gorgeous, looking to break into show business, so he started off as a roadie to a group of these guys, and then they talked him into stripping."

And they clearly don't take themselves too seriously in the Ripa/Consuelos household. Ripa says she even has "an old calendar pinup" of her husband from back in his stripping days. A source also told the National Enquirer back in 2001 that "Kelly's not at all embarrassed — Mark has an awesome body and Kelly is very proud of it." There's really nothing to be ashamed of, and Consuelos has had tons of success since those days.

Mädchen Amick moved out to Los Angeles alone as a teen

Mädchen Amick is another star who's a Hollywood vet at this point, with acting credits spanning from the 1980s to the present day — but her road to fame wasn't always easy. In an interview with Glamour, Amick looked back on when she moved to Los Angeles by herself to pursue a career in acting. She called herself "fearless" at the time and said she did everything she could to land her first role.

Amick recalled the time when she was both auditioning and trying to finish school saying, "I got up at 6 A.M., went from audition to audition until 8 P.M., and took GED classes through Hollywood High." She also discussed how she convinced her parents to let her live this lifestyle at only 16 years old saying, "I made a deal with my parents that if they would help support me that first year, I would work my butt off. If I couldn't support myself by the end of the year, then I'd come back home and rethink things. I never felt like I was handed something. I worked really hard at it."

And Amick's hard work paid off landing roles on shows like Days Of Our Lives, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twin Peaks, Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, and more. As we said, she's a Hollywood vet. And now fans get to enjoy her on Riverdale!

Robin Givens was on the path to becoming a surgeon before starting to act

Robin Givens, who played Josie's mom Sierra McCoy on Riverdale, has been acting professionally since the 1970s. She had roles on shows like The Cosby Show, 90210, The Bold and the Beautiful, Head of the Class, and so much more. But before becoming a famous actor, People reported that she was enrolled in Harvard Medical School.

According to the outlet, at only 15 years old, Givens enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College as a pre-medical major and became one of the youngest to attend the school. After she graduated, she enrolled in Harvard's Medical Program, "but after two semesters she began questioning her desire to be a surgeon." Around that same time, she auditioned for a guest spot on The Cosby Show and "[gave] Hollywood a try." The whole Hollywood thing worked out for Givens and she's had a very successful career.

In an interview with Glamour, she looked back on the moment when she realized she'd made it as an actor saying, "Everything changed with Head of the Class. I remember having sushi with our casting director, and she said, 'Once you lose your anonymity, you'll never get it back. This is your last night of anonymity.'"