Emily is my favorite character on Pretty Little Liars. What can you tell me about the actress who plays her?
—Brenda Brewster, Wichita, Kansas
That would be Shay Mitchell, 25, who knew even as a young child that she wanted a career as a performer. The Toronto, Canada-born actress, who is Filipino on her mother’s side and Irish/Scottish on her dad’s side, began dance lessons at age 5.
When she was 10, her family moved west to Vancouver, British Columbia, where an open casting call for preteen models landed Mitchell her first agent. By her late teens, she had successfully modeled for a variety of companies in such cities as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Barcelona. But Mitchell hadn’t given up her childhood dream of becoming an actress.
To make it come true, she returned to Toronto and studied acting. She soon landed a role in the hit Canadian series DeGrassi: The Next Generation and booked several national commercials. She also landed a recurring role in the Disney series Aaron Stone and is featured in the music video for recording artist Sean Paul’s hit song “Hold My Hand.”
What you might not know is that Mitchell originally auditioned for the role of Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars, but lost out to Troian Bellisario.
She says, “So then the part of Emily came up, and I thought, ‘Why not try this one?’ I’m really happy that I love Emily’s character.”