Lili Reinhart Embraces Being an "Imperfect," "Powerful" Role Model

The Riverdale actress is honored at Variety's Power of Young Hollywood event

By Zach Johnson Aug 29, 2018 2:30 PMTags
Lili Reinhart, Variety's Power of Young Hollywood Event 2018Jesse Grant/WireImage

Lili Reinhart received a very special award last night.

The outspoken Riverdale actress was honored at Variety's Power of Young Hollywood event in West Hollywood, where she was given the Variety + H&M Conscious Award. Taking the stage in front of Sofia Carson, Julianne Hough, Shawn Mendes, Tyler Oakley, Adam Rippon, Amandla Stenberg, Ariel Winter and more peers, Reinhart told the audience, "I'm so honored. As actors, musicians and people with a platform, we are so often called upon to be good role models and to set a good example. With the expectation of being perfect idols, our mistakes are often amplified, our choices are criticized, and our words are scrutinized. That notion scared me for the longest time, because I know I am not perfect, and I knew I was never going to live up to that perfect expectation. So, I wanted to present myself to the world without a filter, and that meant being honest about my own insecurities, my own shortcomings and my own mistakes."

Reinhart, 21, found it "surprisingly easy" to be open with her 2 million Twitter followers and 11 million Instagram followers, explaining, "That's a part of who I am: I'm an openly flawed human."

"In accepting this honor, it is important for me to acknowledge all of the fans—all of the young people who I celebrate my successes with—who have given me the power to be honest about my personal experience with body dysmorphia, therapy, bullying and mental health issues," the H&M-clad actress told the A-list attendees. "It came to my attention that so few influencers were actually willing to talk about their flaws, and that's an idea I wanted to challenge. That's when I realized how important it was to stay authentically myself: Imperfect, but still powerful."

Love Lives of Riverdale Stars
Todd Williamson/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Reinhart ended her speech by encouraging people to be compassionate. "Being proud of who we are is a power that not all of us possess, but we should all be conscious of the power we have to change someone else's world, simply by being open about our own faults and creating a caring environment for those willing to share their own experiences," she said. "Thank you."

Variety also published a Q&A with Reinhart, in which she shared additional insights into why she's been so candid about her life. "I think social media is good in the sense that it's created a big platform for a lot of artists who might not have had an opportunity to be seen," she said, "and it's given us a chance as actors to differentiate ourselves from the characters we play." When she began doing conventions for Riverdale, "I was able to meet people face-to-face and have them tell me, 'I didn't know how to talk to my parents about [mental health], and then I heard you speak about it and was motivated to get help.' At first, people saying things like that didn't really register. It was just like, 'Oh, that's a nice thing to say.' But then it kind of stops you in your tracks to think that something you did has actually influenced someone's life."

Depression "can affect anyone of any gender, any race, any age, no matter how much money you make or how famous you are," she realized. "It's just something you were born with, and you can get past it. It doesn't have to define you, or make you [feel like] any less of a person."

Before she found fame, Reinhart recalled looking up to Demi Lovato. "I remember her as being the first person [I heard] talk about depression and growing up with an eating disorder. I personally have not had an eating disorder, but her openness and honesty about her mental health was really cool to me," the actress said. "I was like, 'Oh, that's how I feel! She's famous and beautiful and has money, and it's strange to think that she could still feel that way, too.'"

—Reporting by Spencer Lubitz