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Riveting in Riverdale


Actress Marisol Nichols dazzles in her return to primetime television in The CW’s hot new series Riverdale.

© Benjo Arwas Photography - Fashion, Celebrity and Advertising
© Benjo Arwas Photography – Fashion, Celebrity and Advertising

The CW Television Network is heating things up in 2017 with its smoking new series Riverdale, and bombshell Latina actress Marisol Nichols will no doubt help make the dramatic primetime television show smolder. The much anticipated show promises to weave a subversive and surprising twist on the iconic Archie comic book series and invigorate the brand with an edgy tone as it focuses on the lives of characters Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) and their families and friends in Riverdale, a surreal, small town with a veneer of wholesomeness shrouding the darkness that lurks beneath its surface. Nichols stars as Hermione Lodge, Veronica’s well-to-do mother who has returned to Riverdale with her daughter ready for a fresh start after her husband Hiram’s scandalous imprisonment and her concealing of some shadowy secrets. Set in present day, the show is described as the Archie Comics meets cult favorite ABC drama Twin Peaks, and, with such impending, eerie intrigue, it’s bound to be the next guilty pleasure for audiences of The CW, which spawned the wildly popular shows The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl. Riverdale debuts Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.

“It’s not your parents Archie Comics by a mile,” Nichols says. “It’s really interesting because in the comic book you saw the main kids and not much of their families, but this show has the full on families — it’s the Lodges, the Blossoms, the Coopers and the Andrews.” Other Riverdale mothers include Mädchen Amick as Betty’s mom, Alice Cooper; and Molly Ringwald as Archie’s mom, Mary Andrews. “The show is exciting because it’s about the town, and there’s lots to do there and lots of mysteries to solve, and there’s trouble and danger and all the fun stuff that makes for really good TV and storytelling.”

Nichols loves playing Hermione because of the dark secrets she holds. “I am happy if I have lots to do with a role,” Nichols says. “I like having a character that’s in trouble but that I want to see succeed, like Hermione. She’ll do anything to help her family, but she’s sort of dug a hole for herself and she’s got some choices to make. She’s got her own mystery, as well as love interests in Riverdale, as well as her relationship with Veronica. And she’s very upscale! Smithers is their butler, and, in one scene, they pull up to an amazing, incredibly decorated condominium with all the things that go with it, yet they view as ‘slumming it,’ which is very funny, but, at the same time, they fell from grace when Hermione was at the height of the New York social scene. Her husband is imprisoned, and we will feel his presence throughout the first season — and he’ll continue to come into play in Hermione’s life in Riverdale. Those demons will chase her all the way.”

The vivacious, alluring and beautiful Chicago native with Mexican-Hungarian-Romanian roots is quickly becoming a hot commodity in Hollywood. Nichols has garnered plenty of award recognition for her talents; she won the National Speech and Theater Championship Award for two years, while studying at the College of DuPage; she received the Golden Eagle Award for most promising actress in 2001; and she’s a three-time ALMA Award nominee.

She is happy to return to primetime with Riverdale and will bolster her considerable television resume that includes playing lead roles in the ABC comedy GCB produced by Darren Star, opposite Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Potts and Leslie Bibb, and in Showtime’s groundbreaking series Resurrection Boulevard, where she earned praise for her portrayal of troubled teen Victoria Santiago. She also played Pakistani-American Nadia Yassir, commanding CTU in season six of 24, and she had a recurring arc as the elusive assassin Desert Wolf on MTV’s scripted drama Teen Wolf and on NCIS as ATF Special Agent Zoe Keates.

In the fourth installment of National Lampoon’s classic Vacation film series, Vegas Vacation, Nichols played Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold’s daughter Audrey, and the film helped launch her Hollywood career. “I like going back and forth doing all types of film,” says Nichols, who, in true superstar fashion handles both comedy and drama with aplomb. “I may prefer drama because I feel like it’s easier, but I also enjoy being the straight man to really brilliant comics. You have to kind of play comedy as if it’s real, and then the situation makes it funny. Vegas Vacation was my first movie that I’ve ever done, and it was so much fun, and I was really surprised and impressed that they’d hire a Latina to play Audrey Griswold! But they did, and it was great, and I was very thankful.”

Other film credits for Nichols include Scream 2, Can’t Hardly Wait, Big Momma’s House 2 and Felon, starring Nichols, Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer, which received scores of critical acclaim.

“Felon is probably the movie I’m most proud of,” Nichols says. “It was based on a true story that I was familiar with. I really wanted the role and campaigned hard to play Laura Porter. I loved the story we tried to tell and the message that, hey, we’re imprisoning people, but they’re put in a situation where they can never possibly get better and then you let them out on the street and you expect them to be better! My husband, played by Stephen Dorff, was defending us, and, because he kills this burglar, he ends up going to prison for murder. I loved it because it showed the toll it takes on the family as well. There was a great line where my husband says, ‘I’m in here doing time,’ and she fights back and says, ‘You don’t think I’m doing it too?’ I was proud that my character could show the audience what it must feel like to be in this sort of situation.”

For the past decade Nichols has been seriously committed to fighting for the rights of women and children. She co-founded Foundation for a Slavery Free World, and she is also spokesperson for Youth for Human Rights International, both non-profit organizations that strive to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery. “People have no idea that slavery is going on right in front of them,” Nichols says. “They have no idea that it’s happening in the United States to our kids and that it’s not necessarily kids from other countries that are being brought here, and, although that occurs, it’s not the majority anymore. The stats are mind boggling — more than 1.2 million children each year are trafficked across international borders, but people just don’t understand because they don’t know about it. It’s unfortunate. Look at what the people did with the Dakota Pipeline — they stood up for something that was wrong and fought it until it changed.

As a society, that’s what we need to do about this issue, and the first step is knowing about it and we haven’t even gotten that far. We need people shining a light on it, doing stories on it and putting it in people’s faces so that they understand and they can protect their own daughters from this sort of thing and help fight for other parents who couldn’t protect theirs.”

In a concerted effort to bring attention to human trafficking, Nichols hosts and produces The Human Rights Hero Awards and has been doing so for the past three years. “After filming Riverdale, I’ll start work on the next one, which may be held sometime in April,” Nichols says.

“We award incredible organizations and incredible people doing heroic work in the field of human trafficking. We usually start on an international level, then go to a national level and then a local level, and, by the end, the audience, which are my fellow people in the industry — actors, directors, writers — is fully aware of what the issues are, who the people are that are fighting it and what they can do to help. That’s the purpose of these events.”

Nichols fell for New Orleans while shooting Big Mamma’s House 2, the crime caper comedy starring Martin Lawrence. “I love New Orleans!” Nichols says. “I thought it was so interesting. The culture is so present in New Orleans and there’s a history that I loved learning about, and there is so much to learn. The people are so proud of that culture, and I really enjoyed being a part of it for the short time that I was there. There’s also something mysterious and spooky about New Orleans, which I love! And I had so much fun eating in New Orleans; I think it was that House of Blues brunch that did me in! And I became obsessed with pralines; oh my God they are so good! I had a few beignets, but I was trying to be good.”

Recently, Nichols snuck away from filming Riverdale in Vancouver for a few days to go home to L.A. to be with her husband, director/cinematographer Taron Lexton; her daughter Rain; her dog Tubby; and her cat Pinky. “I rescued both my dog and my cat,” Nichols says. “Tubby was a very sick adult German Shepard and I’m telling you, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that we were his last chance and we were saving his life. He made a full recovery! And I love this boy.

He’s like my baby; he’s such a good boy! I bottle fed my kitten who was as big as my palm when she was abandoned by her mom, and now my kitten is 16 years old! Rescue animals are the best!” As a huge animal rescue supporter, Nichols is an honorary celebrity co-chair for the Louisiana SPCA’s Howling Success Patron Party & Gala 2017, and she will hopefully make it back to town later this year to enjoy more of the New Orleans culture she loves. marisol-nichols.com, slaveryfreeworld.org