Lindsey Shaw needs no introduction. Back in 2011, she joined Pretty Little Liars for a short three-episode arc, and now, seven-and-a-half ABC Family seasons (and three years) later, she is still going strong as the incomparable Paige McCullers. She was gracious enough to sit down for another interview with us to talk about Paige’s evolution, the love triangle she’s caught in with Emily’s first girlfriend (the resurrected super-force, Alison DiLaurentis), and why she’s cool with always crying on the Rosewood set.
AfterEllen: The last time we talked was the beginning of season four, which in Rosewood Time, contains decades. Everything was going Paige’s way back then; she’d just gotten a swimming scholarship to Stanford and Emily was ready to move cross-country with her — and now things have kind of taken a turn.
Lindsey Shaw: [Laughs] Taken a turn. Yeah, you could say that. Talk about the ups and downs of Rosewood!
AE: Talk me through those golden days of yore to now, these days of #PaigeBeScreaming.
LS: First of all, I love that hashtag. Everyone who trended that on Twitter is awesome. What has happened since then, of course, is Alison and the Pretty Little Liars’ obsession with Alison and this case. I don’t think they could quit now, even if they wanted to. Paige just wants to be happy with her girl at Stanford! She’s picking out rooms and curtains! And when she sees that Emily just can’t let go of this case, she decides to take things into her own hands. And even though I understand why Emily sides with the PLLs and with Alison, that sure doesn’t make it any less hard for Paige.
AE: But Paige didn’t disappear.
LS: No. No way. Obviously she misses Emily like crazy and she’s trying to find a way to be friends, to get in there, to connect with Emily again — and she’s doing it while trying to cope with the fact that her torturer is back and right in her face and closer to her girl than ever.
AE: To be honest, I had a big worry that Paige was headed out of town for good after last season, so to have you back in every episode so far this season has been such a wonderful surprise. How do you feel about the direction Paige is going this year?
LS: I love it. I’ve loved it all the seasons, but this is my favorite season so far, and I think it’s because Paige does sort of exist outside of Emily right now, and she is sort of getting to change her own world, which is something we have all always wanted for Paige. She has genuinely let go of as much being bullied by Alison as she can. She’s strong, and she wants to make other people strong. Paige knows she has to participate in this game, but she’s trying to be healthy and fierce and to keep the sadness from settling on her, and she’s refusing to pass forward anymore of her emotional baggage.
AE: Do you think this is the strongest we’ve seen Paige?
LS: Oh, yes. Despite the fact that she’s not with Emily, this is the most secure we’ve ever seen her. It’s even an evolution in the way she looks. She has a new hairstyle, new clothes. I will always count it a blessing that I’ve been able to evolve, physically and emotionally and mentally, through every season. I also really love Paige’s swagger right now. I love that scene in the locker room with Sydney when Paige is kind of trying bring a little levity to the Rosewood world. “In the pool, and out of the pool. In and out of the pool.” Confident Paige, I love confident Paige.