Exclusive: Shay Mitchell talks Emaya, doing her own stunts, and why she loves playing gay


AE: Let’s talk about you a little bit. It’s been a pretty great year for you. So many Pretty Little Liars accolades. You launched your own website.
: It has been such a blessed, crazy year. I feel so lucky to be a part of this show, but I also wanted another way to connect with my fans in a way that’s a little more involved than Twitter and Facebook. I’m so excited about it because my website is not like anything I’ve ever seen before. I want it to be a place where I can connect with people and encourage them. I want to do how-tos and tips about things people maybe don’t know. I want it to be empowering for girls and women of all ages and ethnicities and sexual orientations.

AE: My favorite part of your website are the videos with your mom.
: I have been telling her my whole life that I want to compile all the things she’s taught me into a book. She’s wonderful. I don’t know how she does it, but she knows so much, and she’s always teaching me. And so I decided to use my website to share all of those things with other people.

AE: You know the Shay Mitchell Army?
: I do!

AE: Yeah, I’m going to start a Shay Mitchell’s Mom’s Army. She’s so great. Was she reluctant to do your website videos or was she like, “Sure, I’ll be a star!”
: The funny thing is, she was coming to stay with me, so I picked her up from the airport and in the car on the way to my house I was like, “Oh, some people are coming at 8:00 in the morning and we’re going to shoot some videos.” And she was like, “Cool, what are you shooting?” And I was like, “No, we’re shooting. We’re shooting videos about everything you’ve ever taught me.” She was a little nervous, but we had so much fun.

AE: I continue to be blown away by your generosity with your fans, how willing you are to reach out to them and connect with them.
: You know, my goal — and I’m not saying this like a pipe dream; I am going to make it happen — is to be able to go into schools and talk to teenage girls. I want to talk to them about self-esteem and self-worth, about relationships with boys and relationships with girls and relationships with their family and friends. And about embracing and celebrating the differences that make them who they are. I always wanted to be an actor, but more than that I always wanted to be able to reach out and help people.

I am thankful every day that role that came to me was Emily Fields. She’s a wonderful character, and I love playing her — but she’s also an important character. Things are changing. The world is finally understanding that love between two people, no matter their gender, is just love. And Emily is a part of that. She’s a sweet character, a fun character, and she’s a character who has found empowerment through embracing the fact that she’s a girl who likes girls. I am so proud to play her. It’s like the universe worked its magic and brought her to me.

AE: Every time I talk to you I feel like we’re living in the future. I told you this last time, but one of the first straight actors I ever interviewed told me right off the bat that she was worried about being typecast as a lesbian for the rest of her career, and you’re over here saying that playing gay is one of the biggest blessings in your life.
: That’s because I think it is! Acting has given me a big voice and I want to use that voice to empower people.

AE: OK, I asked Twitter to give me some questions for you. I’m just going to ask you the two most tweeted ones. The most tweeted one was: Will you marry me? “Me” being, well, Twitter, I guess. Will you marry Twitter? Shay, how many marriage proposals do you get a day. Be honest.
: I can feel the heat radiating off my face I’m blushing so much. I’m single! I don’t get marriage proposals every day!

AE: Well, clearly you’re not reading AfterEllen.com frequently enough. OK, here’s the second most tweeted question: How does it feel to be the most gorgeous woman in the world?
: Heather! My face is so red!

AE: I’m just reading Twitter out loud to you! You know everyone here thinks you’re gorgeous! You’ve seen the AfterEllen.com Hot 100!
: Well, thank you. Your readers are wonderful.

AE: We think so. I don’t want to keep you because I know you’re sick. But good luck staying alive for the rest of the Pretty Little Liars season. If it’s anything like the premiere, you’re going to need a lot of luck and probably a flamethrower.
: Ooh, a flamethrower! I’ll talk to Marlene!

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