Season 5B of Pretty Little Liars features all the signature hallmarks of the series: black hoodies, cryptic messages, and a beautiful new queer lady with designs on Emily Fields. Fresh off her break-up with Paige, Emily butted heads with Talia when she swept in and saved Rosewood from Emily’s terrible cooking skills. Since then, the two have been sharing secrets, riding bikes, and kissing each other’s faces. This week’s episode reveals Talia’s big secret: She’s married to a man.
How does this bombshell affect their budding relationship? Is this the end of Temily or the beginning of something much more complicated? I sat down with Miranda Rae Mayo aka Talia to find out more about the character’s journey, life on the PLL set, and how to keep Talia from getting murdered. Also, she is reading your tweets and thinks they are hilarious.
AfterEllen: So last night was a pretty big revelation for your character. Did you know from the start that Talia was going to be married to a man, or were you surprised as well?
Miranda Rae Mayo: No, I did not know from the casting. There were a lot of things that I did not know from the casting, but I, personally, do really well in sink or swim type situations so I loved finding everything out as we were going. That’s how life happens anyway, you know?
AE: Did you know that you would be playing a queer character?
MRM: I did not. I had no idea.
AE: When you found out were you like, “Jackpot, I get to make out with Shay Mitchell!” because that would be my immediate response.
MRM: [laughs] I mean, who wouldn’t be excited? The girl is gorgeous, and she’s so wonderful to work with, like every step of the way she made everything so comfortable and just a really warm, welcoming, positive work environment. I was excited to be telling this story.
AE: Do you think Talia’s gay or bisexual, or is she still figuring it all out?
MRM: I think that we definitely have to bear with her on her journey, because I think she is still figuring everything out, and more will be revealed in the weeks to come. But yeah, I think she knows how she feels, what she feels for Emily, and she knows what she feels for her husband. What she chooses to do with those feelings, we’ll see.
AE: So tell me a bit about the casting process. You’ve worked on The Game and Days of Our Lives—what was it like auditioning for Pretty Little Liars?
MRM: I went in an read for the producers, then we did a chemistry read with Shay, and it was just a really warm, welcoming room. That whole set, that whole crew are just some of the best, most cohesive people that I’ve ever worked with. There’s not one person I came into contact with that wasn’t genuine, so from the get-go I was really excited about working with these people.
AE: What’s your favorite scene that you’ve shot so far?
MRM: I really loved the confession scene, because there was so much going on with her, and Talia is the queen of professionalism and keeping it together, and putting on this façade, if you will, to the outside world that everything is going to be OK. And to be able to really get into the headspace of what a person like that would be going through in a moment of such raw vulnerability, it was really just enriching to me as an actress, I really loved being able to tell that story.
AE: When you got the job, where you aware of the massive social media following and the die-hard fans of the show?
MRM: I was aware of the massive following, but I definitely wasn’t aware of how invested the fans were with who Emily is with or not with, but I love it! It makes it that much more exciting to watch and become involved with. The social media aspect of the show is one of my favorite parts. It’s been very hot and cold with the fans, at leas the ones tweeting at me. Some of them love Temily together, and others still want Paige to come home, which I understand. Paige is great, I get it!
AE: So which portmanteau do you prefer? Temily, Emilia, or Apples Flambé?
MRM: [laughs] I really like Tamily, but I guess that hasn’t made it through. But they’re like a tamale—like a hot tamale! But I understand, we all love Emily, so her name needs to be prominent in the ship, so I guess I’ll say Temily.
AE: Nice. So, since the show has a record of murdering their queer women of color characters, we are obviously very concerned with your survival. So I wanted to run you through a little mental exercise.
MRM: [laughs] OK, let’s do it.
AE: A is chasing you down a hallway…
MRM: Oh gosh…
AE: You come across three items to defend yourself with. These items are: a beer mug, a pair of feathered earrings, or a mannequin leg. Which do you choose?
MRM: Ooh. Hmm…you know what? I would probably grab the mug, because that’s heavier, I could hit—but we’re running down a hallway—yeah, I would probably grab the mug. It’s heavier, I could do more damage, I could break it, you know? The mannequin leg is tempting, but I feel like it’s a mirage. That’s not gonna help me, there’s no weight to that, and it’s not gonna do anything.
AE: Fair enough. Who do you think A is?
MRM: I have absolutely no idea. No idea whatsoever. But after these last episodes with Mike getting all crazy, I don’t know. But that’s too obvious right?
AE: Let’s talk it out.
MRM: I think either Holbrook or Hanna.
AE: I think you’re onto something.
Catch Miranda Rae Mayo on Pretty Little Liars and Days of Our Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @msmayoalldayo