Lili Reinhart almost didn’t sign on to co-star in Hustlers. The 23-year-old Riverdale star—Generation Z’s Blake Lively—was sent the script by her team, with the note that the director, Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler), wanted to meet with her. But Reinhart blanched when she saw the logline: “‘Strippers in New York drug and rob men on Wall Street.’ And I was immediately like, ‘Oooh, this is probably not the vibe that I want.’”

But after she conveyed that message to her team, they persisted. “They were like, Read the script. So I did, and it was obviously amazing.”

Reinhart feels pretty good about that decision now. Hustlers—which stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, as well as Cardi B and Lizzo in small roles—promises to be the sort of buzzy, commercially successful film that seems almost too well constructed and well timed to be true for a young television star aiming to embark on a movie career.

The actress—who grew up in Cleveland before relocating to Los Angeles—plays a stripper named Annabelle in the film, which is based on a true story about a group of Scores dancers (depicted in a 2015 New York–magazine article by Jessica Pressler). Under the guidance of a de facto den mother (Lopez), the group decides to embark on a scheme to drug affluent men by employing a potion concocted out of MDMA and ketamine. Annabelle’s function is as a sort of bait—she meets the men at a bar and then her “sisters” (Lopez, Wu, Keke Palmer) show up to join them, and, well, things get murky (for the men) from there. Whatever the opposite of nerves of steel is, that’s what Annabelle’s afflicted with, as she—in a running gag—vomits whenever things get dicey or tense, which, as you can imagine, happens quite a bit.

One of the major draws of the film for Reinhart was getting to be a part of the stellar all-female ensemble, and she says she tried her best to see her very famous co-stars as, simply, co-workers. While she says she’s “definitely seen Monster-in-Law multiple times [and] definitely had ‘On the Floor’ on my iPod Nano,” she tried to view J. Lo as the movie-actor equivalent of the person one cubicle over. “I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I really am not star-struck very much unless it’s, like, Lady Gaga … or probably Meryl Streep.… I really try to not have any preconceived notions when I meet anybody. I truly just tried to look at Jennifer as my co-star who has had … an incredible career.”

Life After Graduation

Reinhart—who plays Betty Cooper on Riverdale, one of the CW’s biggest hits of the past five years—seems destined to follow the trajectory of a Michelle Williams or Lively before her, who went from playing the female lead in a very popular television show adored by teenagers to full-fledged movie star. Making that transition in the public eye is not necessarily without its stresses, though. Reinhart is extremely close with her Riverdale co-stars, and is dating Cole Sprouse, who plays her love interest on the show. Ask the nearest 16-year-old in your vicinity and you’ll undoubtedly get a lengthy discourse on the topic. But she sounds very excited for the career phase that will start after the series has ended.

In Hustlers, Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu play strippers who drug and rob wealthy men.

“Oh, God, I think I could get in trouble if I answer that too honestly,” she says, laughing, when asked how she currently feels about working on Riverdale. “I think my heart is really in films. It’s really wonderful to have a steady job and to work with a group of people who are like my family. Truly. I see them all the time. We all live in the same city.”

“Oh, God, I think I could get in trouble if I answer that too honestly.”

She says she does appreciate that the show gives her new angles of Betty to play week to week. “Riverdale has so many twists and turns and offers us, unlike I think a lot of other shows, opportunities to do so many things.... One episode it feels like I’m in a horror movie and the next episode I’m in a drama, and the next episode I’m doing a period piece. It feels like you get a piece of everything and I think that’s really what helps keep it interesting.… I’m very lucky in that regard.”

With a starring role on a breakout CW show comes a massive social-media fan base, and Reinhart now has a cool 19.8 million Instagram followers to her name. Somewhat unusual among her contemporaries, she blends the requisite magazine-photo-shoot and promotional posts with quirkier slice-of-life samplings, including memes, shots of flowers and scenery, and poems. She explains, “I don’t want someone to look at my social media and just see photos of me on a red carpet or my magazine shoots.... I don’t want to follow people who just post beautiful photos of themselves. I think that’s quite boring, so I try not to be that person.”

And she speaks with conviction about trying to present a more realistic portrayal of who she is on social media: “I’m literally laying in bed right now in a T-shirt with no makeup on because I go to work in a couple of hours, and I’m going to go to the gym after I take a nap,” she says on the phone. “My life is not always glamorous. It hardly ever is. I want people to see that.” She goes on, “I think there’s nothing more un-relatable than people who have incredibly perfect bodies and who are on yachts all the time. I’m like, ‘That’s great, but that’s not.... You’re like the 1 percent of the 1 percent, you know?’” I comment that it does feel like half of my Instagram feed was on Capri all summer, and she laughs. “I wish I had time to sail around Italy, but I’m hustling, and I’m working my ass off.”

“My life is not always glamorous. It hardly ever is. I want people to see that.”

Reinhart has also become a tabloid mainstay, due in large part to her relationship with Sprouse, which she keeps mostly private—and she does not feel an obligation to speak about or share that aspect of her life. “It’s never an intention of mine to, like, hide facts about my relationship, but it also isn’t for the world to know.”

She seems to understand that other actresses might handle the position she is in differently, and she is self-aware, and wise, about her image. “I have a little bit of a cold exterior sometimes,” she admits. “You kind of have to crack me open a little bit. I think that’s just who I am. Some people are very much an open book, and they’re warm and friendly the second you meet them. I just don’t really think that’s me. I’m a little bit more closed off, and that’s O.K. I think I don’t have to try to pretend to be something that I’m not just because I’m on a CW show and I have young fans. I don’t really need to be sharing everything about my love life and my friendships just because that’s what teens are doing right now. I feel like I cherish being more reserved.”

It’s hard, after talking to Reinhart for any period of time, to not come away with a sense that this is a woman—particularly for someone only 23—who really knows who she is and what she wants to be spending her time on. She has drive and gravitas, but also a sense of humor, not taking the Hollywood of it all too seriously. She already wrapped the coming-of-age, drama-romance film Chemical Hearts, which she stars in and for which she also serves as an executive producer. And she cites the words of Jeff Bridges when asked about the next stages of her career. “He said once that every project he does he tries to make a one-eighty from the last project that he did.”

She continues, “I’m still in this very experimental phase of my career, which is exciting because it allows for a lot of firsts.… I have the opportunity to try a lot of things and not be typecast and sort of lay the foundation, hopefully, for the rest of my career where people can be like, Oh yeah, she can play whatever role she wants to play.”

Josh Duboff is a writer and screenwriter living in New York