Hubert Burda Media

Madelaine Petsch: Queen Bee

The Riverdale star on playing Cheryl Blossom and her idea of perfect happiness.

Twenty-three-year-old actress Madelaine Petsch has captured the imaginations of millennials all over the world with her fierce portrayal of “fabulous queen bee” Cheryl Blossom in the Riverdale television series. The second season of the show, which is based on Archie comic characters, premiered in October, and the first episode became its highest-rated and most-watched to date, according to Nielsen.

Born on August 18 in Tacoma, Washington DC, Madelaine was raised by South African parents. She spent the first 10 years of her life moving between Washington and South
Africa. The winner of Choice Hissy Fit at this year’s Teen Choice Awards, Madelaine is a vegan and an active supporter of PETA, the animal-rights organisation. Highlights of
an exclusive interview:

Congratulations on the success of Riverdale. Did you have any idea how big it would turn out to be?

I had no idea! We all walked into the project just being passionate about it, excited and open-minded, with no expectations. I’m constantly amazed by how it blew up.

Cheryl Blossom is your breakout role. How did you get the part?

I auditioned for a guest spot on Legends of Tomorrow. It turned out that the casting director was also casting the pilot for Riverdale. He asked me to audition for the role of Betty Cooper, but I always had the Cheryl Blossom character in mind. The minute they had scenes for Cheryl, I went in, and the rest is history.

What made you want to play Cheryl Blossom?

She has so many layers and complexities beneath the surface. At any given point, Cheryl is feeling at least five different emotions. It makes being her so much more fulfilling as an artist, and exciting. Everyone has been through a period of time where they are figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Cheryl has been stuck in that “moment” for the majority of her life, with no help from her parents or the outside world. She’s broken and lonely. I absolutely understand the feeling of figuring out who you are.

When did you first become interested in acting?

Probably when I started speaking. My mother has some hilarious home videos of plays and dance performances I would put on for my family. I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life since I was cognitive. At five years old, I got into musical theatre and, at seven, I got into dancing competitions. I have always loved performing.

Who is your biggest influence in acting?

I would say Meryl Streep.

What is your personal goal in life?

To always be happy and appreciative of where I am. To stay inspired and passionate about my art. I would love to delve more into the world of movies soon, and eventually get into directing and producing as well. I want to try everything.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t think perfect happiness exists. I am always striving for something more and working on myself. There will always be aspects of life out of my control. It’s all about remaining positive, appreciating where you are at and staying inspired.

What can we expect from you in the coming year? 

Riverdale season two, as well as some other very exciting things I’m working on. You’ll have to stay tuned into my social media channels to find out about because they are still in the works.


Photography: Mitchell McCormack

Stylist: Suzi Rezler

Hair: Patricia Morales

Makeup: Elie Maalouf