Apparently, Shay Mitchell didn’t have to think twice about playing the lesbian character, Emily, on the hit show Pretty Little Liars, according to Teen Vogue.
“I have a lot of friends who are gay; my aunt had a girlfriend. It’s just normal,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that playing Emily, a girl that isn’t the typical lesbian character portrayed on television, was important.
“I’m not playing the gothic chick dressed in all black who eats lunch in the corner and is a lesbian,” Mitchell said. “If you look at the poster, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to pinpoint which one of us is the lesbian, and that was really important to me.”
The impact of her character has surprised Mitchell.
“It means so much to me when someone says, ‘Thank you for playing this role,’” she said. “It’s one thing to entertain people, but it’s something else to actually have a small impact on their life in a positive way.”
Like Emily, Mitchell has stood out in her own life, too.
“I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community, and most of my friends had blonde hair and blue eyes,” Mitchell said. “I was always straightening my hair, wearing colored contacts and I never tanned if I could help it.”
Since then, Mitchell has embraced her differences.
“Now that I’m older, I realize that the things that made me different are the things that make me special,” she said.
Mitchell tries her hardest to impress this point on her fans, especially the ones that say they want to look like she does.
“You want to look like you,” Mitchell tells her fans, “because you’re unique and you’re beautiful.”
Mitchell doesn’t hide the fact that she wears fake eyelashes on the show or that the people on set make sure that she never has a double chin.
“We all have our things,” Mitchell said, “but I embrace them because I know nobody’s perfect.”
The next episode of Pretty Little Liars premieres on Tuesday, June 11.