Exclusive Interview with Riverdale’s Bernadette Beck

Fans were skeptical when a new girl gang showed up at Riverdale High. Shortly after Toni got kicked out of The Serpents, Cheryl provided her with a new family – The Pretty Poisons. While the gang is still somewhat of a mystery, fans are curious about how standout gang member Peaches N’ Cream, played by Bernadette Beck, will rock the Riverdale boat. I had a chance to talk to Bernadette about her life, what life is like at Riverdale and a little bit about how she deals with the pressures of coming between one of the show’s most famous couples. Keep reading to see what she had to say!

So let’s start with your audition for Riverdale. Tell me about that experience.

My agent sent me the audition and I figured, “Okay, I’ll show up.” I mean, it was literally the day before the episode went to camera or started shooting. When I went there, the casting office really had every variety of female in Vancouver, so then I realized, “Okay, this was pretty open.” Sometimes it’s like that, and then other times you go in and everyone looks like you, and that’s kind of weird too. But that’s when they’re specifically looking for something that they know that they want. So I wasn’t really sure what they were looking for and then the other casting breakdown was pretty simple. I really just brought whatever I wanted [in to] the audition room. I didn’t feel anxious and wasn’t in my head and I think I performed at 110% because of that. I think it was like eight hours later [that] I got the call from my agent and he told me that I landed the role of Peaches N’ Cream. I was in total disbelief.

I have to ask the obvious question. Riverdale is famous for its “ships” so I’m sure fans want to know, who is your favorite Riverdale ship?

I’m a supporter of Choni, which is Cheryl and Toni. I think they’re just fantastic on camera. I just love how they sort of normalized a lesbian relationship, where there’s no one that’s playing a more masculine or feminine role. They just don’t stereotype, and also, they’re interracial too, which is really cool. My parents are an interracial couple and I honestly didn’t start seeing interracial couples depicted normally in a non-comedic way until a few years ago. I actually first started seeing them just presented normally through British television. Growing up, I never saw myself depicted on TV at all. So, kinda going back to Cheryl and Toni, or Madelaine [Petsch] and Vanessa [Morgan], they’re pretty much best friends on set. That kind of connection and bond translates to the performance and that’s why I think they’ve got so many supporters and that’s why it’s just so real.

Your character has quietly caused some waves with Choni. How has that been for Bernadette?

I have literally no say on what my character does, but I think some people just get so wrapped up with the story and they forget how to disconnect the characters from the actor, the real person. I think we’ve got to be careful with that because I’m a person. I don’t deserve to go through any kind of hatred because I’m literally just showing up and doing a job. But I’ve definitely been feeling it. I just try not to pay too much attention to it and just really focus on connecting with fans or followers that have just been showing me a lot of love and support and just want to generate more kindness and to talk about the show; if they have any questions, I’ll answer them.

I think some people are just very protective of their Choni ship, so I can respect that. I understand that. I’m a Choni shipper myself. But to spew hatred, personally, [is] not my style. But for those that do it, I just try not to pay too much attention to them.

So let’s talk about Peaches N’ Cream. How did writers come up with your characters for the Pretty Poisons and do you have a say in how your personality develops as that character?

I think the writers wanted to create us for a much desired avenue for the show. So I think that would be through further adequate representation for people of color, strong females, potentially members of the LGBTQIA communities. I mean the beauty of Peaches N’ Cream and the Pretty Poisons is that we’re not tied into any particular character that we have to reference from the Archie comics. So we can just really be whatever we want to be and create whatever we want it to be and I think it’s sort of powerful. That way we can use that power to give voice to people who have just really been underrepresented on TV.

I guess as an actor, I just go with the words that have been written for my character, so just sort of playing it off whatever they give me; Peaches N’ Cream is still somewhat of a mystery even for me. But the kind of cool thing is that I know that I can still create and shape the kind of person she is through my actions with my expression. I do have input for my clothing, my makeup, my hair and of course Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale creator] along [with] the writers, have input in that for sure. That’s sort of the benefit of creating a sort of a modern day character and not a vision from the past. And it’s really nice that Riverdale has been able to kind of create new characters just through their own creativity, just sort of spawned off what we’ve seen from the Archie comics that I think must have come out over half a century ago. I loved Archie comics growing up; I was actually addicted to them.

Growing up with Archie comics, I don’t know what it was that just drew me to them. When I was at the grocery store,  I think up until I was like 13 or 14, I’d always grab a comic or ask my mom, “hey, can I grab one?” And then over time you just keep this massive collection and then you go back and you read the ones that you like, the older ones.I just have really fond memories of reading those comics and I can’t say I’ve ever had that same experience with other comics. There’s just something about Archie that just drew me to it.

Well, you’ve got lots of fans too. Let’s jump into some fan questions. One fan wants to know who is your favorite person to work with on set?

Oh, that’s a tricky one. Let me think here. I don’t really play favorites. I think in general everyone has been just super welcoming and has made me feel like I’ve been a part of the Riverdale family from the very beginning. I don’t have a specific personl everyone is just generally very pleasant to work with.

As an actress on Riverdale, and someone who wants to hear the fan feedback, do you actually forward our ideas to the Riverdale staff?

Yes, I actually do. Yeah, every episode, I connect with the writer and the director. I’m pretty good with taking that feedback and just working it into the conversation and telling them this is what the fans want. They’re so busy in it; there’s just a lot of people that are connecting with them, but sometimes they can’t see everyone’s comments or messages and I know, at least for the first few episodes, I’ve been pretty available. [But] yeah, I actually have forwarded the feedback because they do look at it. It’s important for the fans to actually be happy with what they’re seeing because without the fans there’s no show, right?

What is one thing about set life that no one knows?

I don’t know if anybody knows this, but it’s pretty common to work like 16 to 17 hours a day on set. Set life is really our life. So it’s just, I guess having enough time to connect with fans and sometimes we just don’t even have enough time to connect with the ones closest to us, like friends and family. It’s really just a commitment that we made when we said yes to the job offer. That’s one little thing that I could think of.

What’s your favorite thing you like to do when you have free time?

Honest truth is that my favorite thing is actually binge watching a fantastic show or movie, probably while eating the most carbohydrate-laden meal on the planet. That’s like a guilty pleasure, and I’m willing to admit it. I wish it could be something a little bit more exciting, but honestly, that is really my favorite thing to do.

Ok, thanks fans for great questions! Let’s jump into your background. I read recently that you do stunt work. Tell me how you got into that.

I’ve never had a stunt double or really haven’t had much action for my acting, so it’s not actually been through acting. I know some actors end up getting into stunt work by doing their own stunts and it kind of works its way in there. But I was actually just doing that totally separate from acting and using some of the contacts that I had developed over the years as an actor in a way.

I grew up doing martial arts and figure skating and swimming. In high school, I got into long distance running and even took that into after I graduated. Then, of course, I was acting actually before I did stunt work. When I was in between acting jobs and still wanting to stay active onset and keep training and keep performing, I was able to find a way of intertwining those two things, still being a performer but also being an athlete.

But of course it comes with the downside of getting injured. I broke my nose, I’m not going to say on which show, but I broke my nose a year and a half ago. Luckily it broke straight so nothing happened; it didn’t go crooked or anything. But yeah, it’s honestly super risky and I know a lot of stunt people down the road, they either get into stunt coordinating or they open up a gym or they get into acting. It’s just really, really hard on your body and it’s really underplayed. People give actors a lot of attention, but stunt people are really part of the heat of the action, and not a lot of us get a lot of credit for it because the whole idea is that no one actually knows that we’re doing the stunt. They think the actor is doing the stunt. So yeah, that’s kind of a little bit about that world.

Who inspires you right now as an actress?

At the moment, I guess the first person that comes to mind is Emma Stone. I’ve actually seen how she’s evolved and the type of content that she’s creating, the same with Julia Garner; both [are] really, really emotionally in-depth actresses [that] I love. I think that I can kind of relate as an actor; the more you live life, the more you can actually make your performances real. That’s why when you’re watching something and you’re emotionally affected by it and it’s just so real, it’s actually because that person has lived that to a certain extent. I think that’s where that’s coming from and I think that’s why she speaks to me so much because I can connect with her that way and I understand that. I think Emma Stone and then Julia Garner would be two actresses that I think really do affect my performance and that I can connect with that way.

Is acting your dream job? Is this what you always wanted to do?

Yeah, I would say so. I think I had different goals growing up. I think my very first goal or dream was to be a lawyer and that was one thing. But I think maybe when I was 11 or 12, I thought, “Okay, acting might be something that I want to get into.” It’s definitely my dream job. I mean it really has to be because it’s not easy and it’s such an inconsistent career path and it’s not the most secure thing.

For me personally, I’m not a morning person, but somehow working on set, even if it’s like a 4:00 or 5:00 AM call time, I can still get out of bed and be excited. So I think that says something; that’s sort of my compass that I use. Like, “okay, am I excited to do something if I can jump out of bed and be excited about it in the morning and I know that I’m doing the right thing.

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us. So we always like to ask what you nerd out about? What do you geek out about?

Oh yeah. Archie comics for sure. I guess, you know that.

After a short break, Riverdale returns tonight at 8/7c on The CW. Make sure you follow her on Instagram and send her some good vibes because guys, she loves Choni too!

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