An interview with “Pretty Little Liars'” Shay Mitchell


Whenever I ask someone from the Pretty Little Liars set to describe Shay Mitchell, they all say the same thing: “She’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.” And that is saying something.

Shay Mitchell landed on our radar when ABC Family launched Pretty Little Liars last year. Emily Fields quickly became one of our favorite lesbian characters, and Shay Mitchell became one of our favorite straight allies. She’s gorgeous, yes, but she’s also charming and articulate and full of life. Every time I interview her, I can feel her enthusiasm coming through the phone. I caught up with her yesterday to talk about Pretty Little Liars’ second season, Emily’s love life and why she’s never going to worry about being typecast as a lesbian. Did you know that you landed the number seven spot on our Hot 100 list this year?

Shay Mitchell: Did you know I just finished reading your recap from last week’s Pretty Little Liars and I laughed so hard I almost hurt myself?

AE: Don’t tell me that. I can’t deal with my life if you’re reading my recaps. Oh, s–t, please don’t tell Troian [Bellisario] the things I say about her voice.

SM: Too late! Actually, I found out about the Hot 100 just a couple of days ago. I was in hair and makeup with Troian and I was like, “Holy crap, look at this — we both made the list!” She was like, “What?! Awesome!”

AE: I mean, of course you were going to make the top 10. You were in hair and makeup, so presumably you’ve seen yourself in the mirror.

SM: Oh, stop. No, really, I’m not going to lie: It was totally unexpected and really cool to make the top 10 on the Hot 100. I’m flattered.

AE: You deserve it. Where are you guys at in filming? You’re filming all 25 of this season’s episodes at once, right?

SM: Right. We are on episode 209 right now. We still have a while to go, but it’s flying by. We’re started filming in April and we’re filming until Christmas. I watched the episode on Tuesday night, and it feels like it happened so long ago, but also like it was just yesterday. The scenes we’ve been filming lately are insane. I know I need to come up with a better word, but I don’t know how else to describe it. The writers, Marlene [King] and the rest of the staff, I don’t know how they come up with this stuff. They’re so creative, and so twisted! I seriously can’t wait for the fans to see it!

AE: These new insane scenes, are they creepy? The last few episodes have been seriously creepy.

SM: Yes, so creepy. But also, bigger. Everything’s getting bigger. The sets are getting bigger. The costumes are getting crazier. Everything is building and building. The fans are going to be happy. They’re going to love it.

AE: I talked to Marlene last week, and she said this is a big season for you because “A” is coming after Emily, guns blazing.

SM: Oh my God, yes. He/she/it/whatever is just after Emily this season. Every time we have a read-through, everyone’s like, “Aww, Emily.” It’s so intense. Emily came out, so A can’t threaten her with that anymore, so now he/she is like, “Fine, I’ll just shoot all my missiles at Emily.”

AE: Is that fun for you as an actor?

SM: Oh, definitely. It is so friggin’ creepy. I don’t know what I’d do if I was Emily in real life, probably just buy a plane ticket and run away to an island somewhere, just leave everyone behind and get the heck out of there!

AE: Me too! Why is Emily fighting so hard to stay in Rosewood? Run, Emily! Run!

SM: I think it took so much courage for her to come out, and now she is out and accepted and loved by her friends. She can live her life the way she wants to. And her friends are her family. They’re going through it together. She would rather be with them, fighting together, than be across the world without them — even if that meant a life without “A.”

AE: Also, there are more gorgeous lesbians in Rosewood than any other city in the world. How’s she going to leave that behind?

SM: Right? Emily has dated some beautiful girls.

AE: Where’s Emily’s love life headed this season?

SM: Well, we’re definitely going to get to see more of Samara. But the potential move to Texas may bring even more women into Emily’s life. You know what I want to see for Emily? And this is what I loved about your last recap when you were saying she never gets to finish anything! I want Emily to find someone she can share a running, leaping kiss in the sunset with, like Ezra and Aria had in the last episode. When I saw that scene, I was like, “Oh! I want that for Emily!” And it will happen for Emily, I know it will. I was talking to Marlene about it, and I was like, “That was so beautiful! I need that to happen for Emily! Come on!”

AE: I really love that Emily is dating and having a good time. That’s never, ever something we get to see on TV. Usually the lesbian characters get a love interest for one or two episodes. But Emily’s love life is just as important on the show as the other Liars’.

SM: I love that, too. Marlene takes such good care of her characters — when she’s not letting “A” try to murder us! I think one reason Emily is reluctant with Samara is she knows what it felt like when Maya left, and she doesn’t want to have that kind of heartbreak again. And she doesn’t want to inflict it on another person. I don’t think Emily’s a player, even though some times I’m like, “Hey, Marlene! Who’s my next girlfriend?!”

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