NOC Interview: Asha Bromfield Discusses the Return of The Pussycats on ‘Riverdale’

Asha Bromfield returns as Melody Valentine in this week’s new Riverdale episode 5×15, “Chapter Ninety-One: The Return of the Pussycats.” The show is based on the characters from the Archie Comics and already on its fifth season. New episodes will continue airing on Wednesdays at 8PM ET and are available to stream next day on The CW.

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ROBIN GIVENS DIRECTS THE EPSIODE — After going MIA during the middle of her world tour, mega-star Josie McCoy (guest star Ashleigh Murray) returns to Riverdale unexpectedly. But it’s not until she reunites with her former bandmates Valerie (guest star Hayley Law) and Melody (guest star Asha Bromfield), that she opens up about the real reason why she’s back. Elsewhere, Veronica (Camila Mendes) gets creative after a surprise visit from her old friend Alexandra Cabot (guest star Camille Hyde). Finally, Toni (Vanessa Morgan) steps in to help Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) and Veronica land a deal.

I had the chance to chat with the actress about giving Melody the ending she deserved on Riverdale, the fan response to The Pussycats’ return, the importance of representation, what she learned from the role, a possible spin-off, and so much more! Keep reading to find out everything we discussed.

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What was your reaction when you found out where Melody was going to be after all this time? Did you get to share any of your own ideas with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa of what you wanted for the character?​
Asha Bromfield: Absolutely, I mean, it’s no secret that this episode came at the heels of everything that happened with Black Lives Matter, and I think what was really great was that Roberto and I got to really have conversations about how we wanted this to come back in an authentic way. We wanted the group to come back in the way that felt meaningful because honestly it was owed to us, you know? I think that’s something that BLM really helped a lot of people see so many disparities, not only in our real lives but also in media, being an actress and so it was really good because from the beginning Roberto and I had been speaking about what we wanted to do with the character. He was very inclusive and allowed me to kind of put my input into the character, which felt so incredible. It just felt like the redemption that Melody deserved, and not only Melody but I feel like young girls of color everywhere. I felt like we deserved it for the culture. I’m just so happy that when Roberto approached me and we were able to talk about the idea of this episode it was from such a genuine place. I feel like because of that we were able to create something that feels authentic, and it felt authentic to shoot because it was long overdue.

I remember they were saying like, “We’re gonna do the episode,” but there was no confirmation. Hayley and I were on the phone and we were like, “Man, it’s probably not going to happen.” And we were getting really sad like, “Oh well,” we’re just going to stay positive. Then, as we’re on the phone, we got the email with the script. I literally was reading it and I was like, “No way,” there was literally stuff in the script that I had said in my real life to do with my own book and stuff. So serendipitous, I just so believe in the universe and timing.

For me, as a viewer and fan of your character, I felt like this episode gave some long overdue, well deserved closure and was almost therapeutic in some of the scenes. Did you feel that way while filming the episode and how did it feel to give Melody a proper ending?
That’s such a powerful question because I feel like this journey with this show extends beyond just TV, I think it really mirrored itself in my own life. The girls and I really went through so much season one and two, so much that people wouldn’t even know. I feel like I as Asha had to go on this journey of discovering my own worth, knowing my own value because I didn’t feel valued at first and it was really hard. It was hard for all of us and I think with writing my book Hurricane Summer, I was really able to find my voice and I started thinking about what do I want to see, you know? And what I wanted to see was the fullness of my humanity reflected back to me. I wrote a coming of age story because so often we see these coming of age stories about white girls, they’re able to have every coming of age story under the sun, which is great, but we also feel, we also experience and our identity extends beyond just what we look like. We’re so much more than just the color of our skin and while it’s an intrinsic, beautiful part of us, I feel like there’s so many more stories that need to be explored. So, I say all that to say that I had to go on this journey of discovering myself, what is my story, what are the stories I want to see more of, and that really empowered me and embolden me as an artist, and allowed me to come back to this show and be like, “Okay, this is what I want to see for Melody.” I say that because I really do feel like it had to be an internal journey because I felt so undervalued and I knew as an artist like back in 2017, when we first filmed the show, I had so much more to offer. I was constantly sad because I was like, “why don’t they see it,” but it was like I had to learn to see it for myself. I feel like once I was able to do that, I was able to come back to Melody now and know exactly who she is; she’s the underdog, she fights, she has a voice. I think of her name like Melody Valentine, to me that translates to song of love. I want to speak love into people who have felt underrepresented, who felt like the underdog, who felt like it’s been so hard, and I feel like that’s my purpose. It really was like I had to become Melody Valentine, if that makes sense, and really step into my power. Now, I feel like in terms of who she is in the show, she’s a role model, she’s a leader, she’s a storyteller, but I had to become that first.

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What was it like stepping back onto set and reuniting with everyone?​
It was really special, and I’ll say that I’m really grateful that we were able to make new memories on that set coming together. I had the most magical time with Camille Hyde, Djouliet Amara, Hayley, Erinn Westbrook, Ashleigh– there was such a sisterhood on set, especially like just the Black girl magic, the energy. There was a real sense of sisterhood and support, especially amongst like myself, Erinn, Hayley, Djouliet. We really spoke about spirituality and the purpose. Us being there, I think for a lot of us, felt bigger, you know? And even being able to be directed by Robin Givens, it was not lost on me. Honestly, I would like look around and be in awe, like I am standing in the middle of my childhood dreams, everything that I wanted and I fought for it for this episode, those long conversations with Roberto. So, I was just really grateful, it was really cool to make new memories, bonding over sisterhood, bonding over our power of being beautiful, young Black women, who are intelligent and smart. I feel like that level of support was so real. So, it was beautiful to make new memories. Hayley and I had bear jokes, we would do overnights and just be silly like goofing around on set, so that was like super great. Just bring good energy, I think that’s super important anywhere you go.

What was it like to work with Ashleigh Murray and Hayley Law to bring back The Pussycats’ dynamic? ​Seeing the three of you on screen together again really warmed my heart.
Girl power– honestly, it reminds me of being younger and watching like S Club or Spice Girls, that energy of when girl power was cool, it actually empowered you, and it felt fun and cool to just be a rock star girl. That is the energy that I think I felt at least when the three of us were performing our end song. It just felt so cool, it’s like this is what it should be, you know? Black girls, brown girls, mixed girls, Latina girls, Spanish girls, Asian girls, Indian girls– we have fun, we’re human, and we’re full of life. I think we have so much to offer and I mean, I’m bursting because that’s my only hope and my goal with this show and these characters is that we show a more three dimensional being— Black girl joy, brown girl joy, all of the joy. So, that’s my own goal, that people are able to have a better, full spectrum of what it means to be a person of color and realizing that it’s no different than anybody else.

Everyone is so hyped for this episode. What has it been like seeing the love and support for both you and the character?​
Yeah, it’s been pretty cool because I feel like people are finally seeing Melody the way I’ve always seen her. I feel like Melody is a cool chick, she plays the drums, she’s such a loving person, like I said she’s a storyteller, and I think she cares deeply about the group and what the group can mean for the world— as Asha and as Melody. So, I think that it’s really, really cool to see her kind of forging her own lane and being recognized for the talent that she is and I’m excited, especially with the episode, for people to see her finally sing and dance. I want to do more of that, just the beginning, hopefully.

A lot of people want a spin-off for The Pussycats, myself included. What are your thoughts on that?
I want it just as bad, trust me. I want the fans to know, please continue to use your voices because we are doing everything we can behind the scenes to push for the show, but we need help too. So, just know we’re doing everything, the girls and I are ready. We’re excited and we want to serve, we want to be of service, this world needs more joy, more love, and just more positive images of girls having fun and being in their power.

We have to roar. Change is not going to be handed to us and if we want to see different types of representation on TV, we have to be intentional with our voices and clear about what are the images that we want to see. What do we want more of? And I know for me, I want to get together with diverse people of color, like I said, different shades, different spectrums and I want to create art, because that is what we do. It’s our birthright to be here, take up space, and I’m ready.

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In your mind, what’s next for Melody? Do you have any hopes for her?​
That’s a great question. I hope that Melody continues to follow her heart, tell stories, and to never give up hope. I pray and hope that Melody always believes that there’s a possibility for a better world and whatever that looks like, whether she wants to perform, whether she wants to write about it, whether she wants to explore it through storytelling, I’m all for it. I just want her to continue being a leader and continue honestly writing. I think it’d be really cool like Jughead style, narrating a show about life, the ups and downs.

There are a lot of fans who see representation in your character. What does that mean to you?​

That makes me so happy because life is literally about just honoring that call. To me, this episode is so monumental because it’s not just about what we did, it’s about– I remember the leap of faith I took, getting on a plane to Vancouver with my tips, not having any money. I’m thinking about that moment and what I believed in myself or what I believed could be true for myself in that moment, and I think that that’s what life is about. It’s about never losing that hope, that childhood spirit. You can have what you want, do the things you want to do, and live a loving, joyful life.

I really lived it and going back to what I said, no one handed this to us, we really had to put in the work behind the scenes to make this episode happen. I just couldn’t be more grateful because to me, it’s proof that you don’t have to take the cards that life gives to you. You can actually determine what you want and just be clear on what you want, but be clear on what you’re worth and eventually the world will rise to that as well, I think.

Do you have a favorite memory from filming the episode or your time on the show overall?
Such a great question. Okay, I want to actually shout out the choreographers that we work with, Heather and Mariesca, they were incredible. They were so encouraging. I was so nervous to dance, by the way, this was my first time dancing and I had so much fun but I was so nervous because deep down you’re like, “Okay, I got this,” but like, “Do I? On national TV?” Heather and Mariesca were just incredible. So, my favorite memory I would say would be dance rehearsals with them because, again, just going back to the power of women, sisterhood, support and what it can look like and what we can create when we come together and uplift each other. I think that that’s the most powerful thing because I couldn’t have done that without them.

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Are there any lessons you learned from this role or show that you’re going to take with you going forward?
Yeah, absolutely. I think the lesson is that I define myself, the world does not define me. And I say this to anybody out there who has a dream, anybody who has like a calling or a hope, go for it and follow it. I believe that that’s destiny and birthright. I believe it was put in you because you’re supposed to fulfill it. That doesn’t mean that the world’s always gonna feel the same way as you, but if you believe in yourself and you just go for it, it will happen. Anything is possible. So I think just remembering that because oftentimes we can like self abandon as humans, oftentimes if people tell us like, “you’re not good enough,” we believe it, but my hope for myself and my hope for others is that we continue to just forge forward and believe in the truth of who we were called to be. So, yeah, that’s the biggest thing this role has taught me. Just believe because Melody went from having no lines to narrating the episode.

What was it like saying goodbye to this character? Is it goodbye or is there a world where you would want to continue playing her?
It was powerful to give her what she deserved because I feel like I also gave my inner child what she deserved. That’s actually very true, I just felt like I was giving little Asha this gift of being free like you get to do what you want to do, go do it, go have fun. So, performing like it was everything, it was powerful, and it felt like karma in a lot of ways. It feels like vindication, honestly, and redemption. In terms of a spin-off, I am so ready to go. I know Hayley is as well and I just hope that we can continue to create more love. That’s my only goal.

If you could pick one song to describe Melody as a character, which would you pick?
Oh my god, I would do “Midnight Sky” by Miley Cyrus. And if we get the spin-off, Roberto, that’s what I want to sing first. Fun fact, I almost sang it in this episode. So yeah, but I think that’s totally her song.

What message do you hope Melody gives to viewers?
That they’re worthy of their dreams. We’re all worthy.