TV: In the books the series is based on, your character is described as having pale skin, strawberry blonde hair, and freckles. . . .
SM: Right. I remember being so excited to get the part, and then I started getting messages on Twitter saying, “You are not right for this.” In the casting breakdown, the producers said they were looking for the girl next door. Who’s to say I’m not the girl next door in this day and age?
TV: Totally. Did you have any trepidation whatsoever about playing a lesbian?
SM: No. The casting directors told me Emily was gay and asked if I was cool with that, but I didn’t have to think twice. I have a lot of friends who are gay; my aunt had a girlfriend. It’s just normal. And the way that fans have reacted [to my portrayal of Emily] has been amazing: I’m not playing the gothic chick dressed in all black who eats lunch in the corner and is a lesbian. If you look at the poster, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to pinpoint which one of us is the lesbian, and that was really important to me.
TV: And if “Shay Mitchell gay” is the first thing Google suggests when someone searches for you, so be it?
SM: Right. My grandma saw that and was like, “What is this?” People always ask me, “Are you gay like your character?” But I don’t feel like I need to answer, because honestly, it doesn’t matter. And it means so much to me when someone says, “Thank you for playing this role.” It’s one thing to entertain people, but it’s something else to actually have a small impact on their life in a positive way, and that’s why it’s important for me to meet my fans. Whenever there’s a meet and greet, whenever I can do a signing, I love that.
In this video, Shay talks about her style vs. Emily’s, and her favorite looks from the shoot.
Pick up the issue for a bigger look at Shay’s inner-and-outer-beauty.