By: Melissa Girimonte
ABC Family’s hit teen soap PRETTY LITTLE LIARS has become this summer’s most addictive series, and the hottest guilty pleasure for the over 25 set. Emily, played by Shay Mitchell, is the sporty, shy, and sexually confused member of the teenage quartet left to deal with their friend’s mysterious disappearance and death.
Shay enthusiastically chatted with us about her burgeoning relationship with Maya, why Alison’s brother returning to Rosewood could stir things up, and promises that upcoming surprises will knock us off the edge of our seats!
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS is targeted at a young adult audience, but has managed to attract quite a few more mature followers. Did you think that the show would attract such a broad audience?
Shay Mitchell: Honestly, yes, from reading the script and the books. Even my mom was really really into it, and she started telling all of her coworkers, and they were really into it. It’s dealing with our parents’ relationships and stuff that they’re going through, so I did know that it was going to be broad spectrum. I was still surprised to see just how many people liked it, though. They’d come up and say, “Well, we really didn’t watch ABC Family before because you think it would be for a younger age group, but we’re really addicted to this show.” I think that’s awesome.
In the last episode, we saw your character Emily decide to give things a go with Maya. Can you share some of the challenges that Emily is going to face as a result of this decision?
One of the big things is her home life, and her parents are extremely conservative. I don’t really think she has that kind of open relationship with her mom where she can just kind of sit down and roll off everything she’s thinking off the top of her head. She has to be really careful with how she approaches that with her parents, and also with her close friends. I know that Hanna came out and told Emily that she would be there for her which is great, but there are still three other girls in the mix, and she’s not fully sure of how they would act if anything were to come out.
I was excited to read that Alison’s brother Jason will be in tonight’s episode. Any hints on his motives besides being back in town for his sister’s memorial?
I think he really wants to have his opinions heard about the way that things should go. He is Ali’s brother, and he has a say. It’s been a while since the girls have seen him, so now that he’s back, there’s a lot more stuff that is going to be coming out. He has a say on the way he thinks things should go, so it’ll be very interesting to hear his opinions.
What kind of surprises are in store for us leading up to the hiatus? Can you tease what’s coming up in the rest of the season to keep us going through the break?
A lot of your questions will be answered. Will you have more questions? A hundred percent. Will you be on the edge of your seat throughout this and probably fall off the couch after you see some of these episodes? Yes. There’s so much to talk about, and I wish I could talk about it, but I think it will be something that you wouldn’t expect. Pretty much anything can go down in Rosewood. These episodes coming up will be very, very good.
Most of the actors in the parental roles on PLL were well known as young stars. What’s it like to be a “teen idol” and work with people who once held that same title?
It’s amazing. It’s such a good cast, Laura Leighton from MELROSE PLACE, Chad (Lowe), Holly Marie Combs from CHARMED, and Nia (Peeples) who plays my mom. My parents were so excited to hear that she was playing my mom. I have a very close bond with Nia, on and off set. It’s very, very cool to be working with these actors and hearing their stories from when they were in similar situations. More than anything, they give a lot of great advice.
Which character can you most relate to from your high school experience?
I think that if you were to take a little bit from every character, that’s kind of who I would identify with. One character as a whole, no. As far as Emily is concerned, I was very shy and quiet at the beginning of high school. I kind of went through all the characters at different times growing up. At the beginning, I was definitely a lot like Emily, very shy, kept to myself, there were a lot of things that I figured out about myself that led me to turn into a different character. Then for a little bit, I was Aria, really independent, hung out by myself a lot. I went through all the characters at different stages, so I can relate to all of them.
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS airs Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC Family (MuchMusic in Canada)
Melissa is a Toronto-based TV blogger and music journalist. A TV fan since birth, it was only in recent years that she discovered her love for writing about what she was watching. After contributing to several online and print magazines as a freelance writer, she started her own TV blog, The Televixen, in 2008.