in­ter­view

You might know him from Riverdale, but he is so much more than just an ac­tor, writes PARIS LIBBY

#Legend - - HIGHLIGHTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy / Eric Michael Roy Creative Di­rec­tion & Styling / Paris Libby

You might know him from Riverdale, but Hart Den­ton is so much more than just an ac­tor

YES, HART DEN­TON is a pretty face, but if you can get past his boy­ish good looks and his chis­elled cheek­bones, you’ll see an Arkansas-born 25-year- old with a heart of gold and a fierce de­ter­mi­na­tion to demon­strate his im­mense talent, es­pe­cially to his naysay­ers. Den­ton landed his break­out role in the hit show Riverdale play­ing Chic Cooper, Betty Cooper’s long-lost brother with a mys­te­ri­ous past. Paris Libby speaks to Den­ton about his suc­cess, his quickly grow­ing fan­base and his ea­ger­ness to also make his mark in the world of mu­sic, all while de­sign­ing a cap­sule col­lec­tion with a top fash­ion brand.

Let’s start with the name Hart; it’s an un­usual name. Is there a story be­hind it?

My par­ents wanted to be sur­prised by my gen­der on the day of my birth, so they had sev­eral names picked out for me. But when my mother looked at me for the first time, my lips were scrunched to­gether in the shape of a heart.

How was it grow­ing up in Arkansas?

I was born in Lit­tle Rock, but grew up in Con­way – it was lovely. It’s the kind of town where you can’t go to the gro­cery store with­out see­ing some­one you know, and the only dif­fi­cult part was the con­fu­sion and ridicule I re­ceived for want­ing to go and find more out in the world. To me, life is all about leav­ing your com­fort zone and col­lect­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences, chal­leng­ing your­self and grow­ing. I dealt with a lot of re­sis­tance in that ca­pac­ity, but my fam­ily is there, so I try to go back as of­ten as I can.

A search on so­cial me­dia re­veals videos of you singing and play­ing mu­sic. When did your love of mu­sic start?

That started at a very young age. It’s some­thing that’s al­ways been there, re­ally. The first time I cel­e­brated Hal­loween, I was four months old and my par­ents dressed me up as Elvis. So they def­i­nitely had some­thing to do with it – they were al­ways very en­cour­ag­ing when it came to me con­stantly want­ing to sing and dance as a lit­tle kid. I’m very thank­ful for mu­sic; it’s my favourite source of ther­apy.

Be­sides act­ing, what role does mu­sic play in your life now?

A mas­sive role. My mind is con­stantly think­ing about mu­sic as well as act­ing. When I first moved to LA, I was told by some­one of “im­por­tance” that I would ab­so­lutely never be able to do both. I have mu­sic com­ing out later this year and can’t wait to prove that per­son wrong. If you’re read­ing this and some­one has told you that you “can’t do some­thing” – please use that as mo­ti­va­tion and prove them wrong. Don’t cower to small-minded peo­ple.

When did you move to LA?

May 1, 2014. One girl I had grown up with in Arkansas had just moved into a new apart­ment. She had no fur­ni­ture, but a mat­tress had just been de­liv­ered to her place, so she slept on the mat­tress and I slept on the floor on top of the card­board box the mat­tress came in. I didn’t have a car the first year and took the bus ev­ery­where. If you think the traf­fic is bad in LA, take the bus for a year and get some per­spec­tive. It would take me three hours to get from the Val­ley to Hollywood!

You’re signed with Next Mod­els. How did you get dis­cov­ered as a model?

[laughs] I didn’t get dis­cov­ered. My first week in LA, I googled every agency’s ad­dress and walked to all the open calls. The only pho­tos I had with me were ones my mom and sis­ter had taken, of me hold­ing a puppy in our garage. Every agency said no ex­cept for Click. I signed with them and then they closed down as a com­pany, so I went to Wil­helmina with bet­ter pho­tos this time and they signed me. Af­ter my time with them, I de­cided to meet with Next again and they signed me.

Was act­ing al­ways part of the plan?

I don’t know if I would say “plan”, be­cause I don’t set plans; I just set goals. But yes, I knew I wanted to do it at some point. I did the­atre as a kid and all through­out high­school, so I was very com­fort­able on stage and mem­o­ris­ing lines.

How did the au­di­tion for Riverdale come about?

My act­ing man­ager, Bran­don Bisig, got me an au­di­tion for a show that David Ra­pa­port was putting to­gether. When I met him, he said, “Wait, come back in two days for this show I’m cast­ing called Riverdale” – and that was that. Six days later, I was on my way to Van­cou­ver.

How did you find out you landed the role?

I was in Arkansas with my fam­ily – my man­ager said, “Don’t go home; you’re on hold for this project,” but I went home any­way. I’m very happy I did be­cause my mother took a se­ries of pho­tos of me get­ting the call. Pic­ture this: I’m stand­ing out in the yard with one hand held high and my girl­friend Sunny is jump­ing all around me and tack­les me to the ground. I’m for­ever grate­ful that mo­ment was cap­tured.

You play Chic Cooper, the half-brother of char­ac­ter Betty Cooper, played by Lili Rein­hart. How is it to por­tray a char­ac­ter with so much mystery about him?

It’s a dream come true for an ac­tor. To play some­thing op­po­site of who you re­ally are, it’s a blast, get­ting to ex­er­cise sides of you that don’t ex­ist in day-to- day life. And Lili is so won­der­ful to work with. There’s so much laugh­ter be­tween takes when we’re in scenes to­gether.

Are you and Chic sim­i­lar in any way?

Not at all. I’m try­ing to think of just one trait but no, hon­estly, not at all.

“If you’re read­ing this and some­one has told you that you ‘can’t do some­thing’ – please use that as mo­ti­va­tion and prove them wrong. Don’t cower to small-minded peo­ple” HART DEN­TON

Riverdale has a huge fan­base. What has it been like be­ing part of such a hit show?

It changed my life – I’m so grate­ful for it and the fans are so nice. I have friends on other shows and when I see them in­ter­act with their fan­base, it’s so dif­fer­ent from what I know. Our fans are so in­cred­i­bly sweet and re­spect­ful. I’ve never turned a fan away. Our fan­base is a beau­ti­ful thing and it’s a huge rea­son why the show is so suc­cess­ful.

You also ven­tured into fash­ion de­sign this year, by way of a col­lab­o­ra­tion with H& M’s af­ford­able lux­ury line Ny­den. How did that come about?

My dear friend Jamie [Schup­pert, Ny­den’s talent re­la­tions man­ager] worked there and I had known her for about two years or so. When they started think­ing of peo­ple to col­lab­o­rate with, she im­me­di­ately brought me up and we started work­ing to­gether. It took about a year from start to fin­ish, and I’m very ex­cited for peo­ple to see the de­signs. I had a sam­ple meet­ing just last week and the looks are won­der­ful.

How would you de­scribe your col­lec­tion?

It’s a com­bi­na­tion of mil­i­tary sur­plus and jun­gle sa­fari at­tire. It’s ex­actly what I wanted to do. My in­spi­ra­tion comes from the years of strug­gling and only be­ing able to af­ford thrift-shop clothes. I had to make my out­fits look fresh with no money, which moulded my “de­signer brain”.

How do you view your own style?

I love my style, and I’m com­pletely con­tent and happy with it. I have lots of vin­tage T-shirts that are on con­stant ro­ta­tion with black trousers, with a pair of boots or Con­verse. And I love jack­ets. I don’t get to wear them that much in LA be­cause it’s usu­ally warm, but noth­ing beats a good jacket.

You re­cently posted some work­out pho­tos on so­cial me­dia. How im­por­tant is fit­ness in your life?

Very, very im­por­tant. My trainer Alex Fine is a mon­ster – and I mean that in the best way. He trans­formed my body over the sum­mer, and he trans­formed my mind­set, too. Fit­ness is an ev­ery­day thing. It’s a life­style and I’d be a more anx­ious per­son with­out it.

Who is your leg­end and why?

I look up to my par­ents. And I like Elvis a lot. But the me I want to be is my own leg­end. The per­son I’m striv­ing to be­come is my leg­end. I want my lin­eage to be hon­oured to have my name – and that’s what I wake up think­ing every sin­gle day.

Scarf print shirt, tiger print coat, black trousers and stud­ded Der­bies _ |

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