‘Pretty Little Liars’ star embraces her Pinoy roots

Jerald Uy

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Filipino-Canadian Shay Mitchell on being morena, playing a bisexual and Pinoy food

PROUDLY MORENA. Shay Mitchell with her Filipino mom, Precious, in a photo posted on her Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – “You’re next,” the event organizer told me as I prepared my digital camera and my audio recorder.

Entering the interview room, this writer caught the subject dancing. She welcomed me, saying, “C’mon, guys.”

The nervousness I felt dissipated at her warmth. Seeing the free-spirited Filipino-Canadian actress Shay Mitchell was a dream come true.  

In real life, 25-year-old Mitchell is far from the subdued bisexual swimmer “Emily” she portrays in the hit TV series Pretty Little Liars.

“You don’t look tired,” I couldn’t help telling her. It was almost 4 in the afternoon and the interview was her last engagement of the day, following a press conference, a meet-and-greet with her fans “The Mitchies” and several other one-on-one interviews.

“Not at all, bring it on!” Mitchell replied with gusto.

She’s pretty

DEFINITELY GIRLY. Mitchell at the presscon for the next season of 'Pretty Little Liars.' Photo by Jerald Uy

Jumping off from the first word of the title of her TV series, Mitchell is pretty, appealing and exotic — hands down.

She may have lived her whole life as a Canadian but she told Rappler that she embraces her morena skin color entirely. 

“I was actually surprised to see a lot of advertisements for skin whitening here,” Mitchell said. “I hope a lot of girls would embrace their [natural] color [instead].”

She’s not little

TOWERING IDOL. Mitchell does her 'mirror face' with the Mitchies. Photo by Jerald Uy

Mitchell is statuesque at 5′ 8”, and her heart is just as big for bullied children, mirroring her character in the TV series. 

“The reaction I always get is, Thank you playing this character, for standing up for something,” she told Rappler thoughtfully. She added that she feels honored for being a role model for teens who feel small about themselves and who deal with the same issues of identity crisis, bisexualism and bullying.

Asked why she accepted the role, Mitchell said, “[Being asked to play Emily] was like asking me to wear running shoes. It did not really matter to me that the character is bisexual or lesbian.” 

“I think love is love and love is great,” the actress said.

She’s definitely not a liar

Mitchell is vivacious and outspoken, aside from being active on social media

“I was driving with mom yesterday and then I said, Ah, they have Jollibee!” she said with a big smile. 

“And then she was like, Yes, tanga, this is where it started.”

“And I was like, Oh…kay,” Mitchell said while scratching her head, her eyes playful. “I’m so sorry.” 

Mitchell told Rappler that she is fond of eating turon baked by a branch of Goldilocks in Vancouver, the Filipino-style spaghetti of Jollibee and home-cooked pancit of her Filipino mother, Precious.

And when it comes to men, Mitchell said they need not put on a different face when with her.

“Being confident and genuinely happy is the sexiest trait,” she said with a mega-watt smile.

After her Manila activities, Mitchell took a break in Palawan and posted this photo on Facebook:

'I could have stayed here all day...a hidden lagoon in Palawan, Philippines :)'

Mitchell celebrated Christmas and New Year with her family in Canada but promised to be back in Manila soon “for more turon and halo-halo.” – Rappler.com


(The next season of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ begins in January 12, 2013 on ETC)

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